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About MESA

In December 1984 a group of 17 keen (young) marine / environmental educators met at the Queenscliff Marine Discovery Centre and developed the concept of MESA. Over the next 30 years MESA grew as a national membership based society but in recent years the society struggled to maintain momentum. As a result, in 2014 the MESA council took the strategic step of uniting with the Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE). In effect, MESA has now morphed into the AAEE Marine & Coastal Special Interest Group.

The original MESA crew Queenscliff MDC, December 1984

Some concepts behind the original MESA:

  • MESA started with strong links to the marine science community in Australia: The December 1984 meeting was part of the Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) meeting at the Queenscliff Marine Science Laboratories at that time. In other words, MESA began as a collective of marine scientists, educators and land (water) managers (National Parks folk).
  • MESA was set up to represent a wide range of people interested in marine education: To reflect the concept that MESA was more than a society for teachers, the word "Education" (as opposed to "Educators") was deliberately included in the society's name.
  • MESA also started with strong links to AAEE: Quite a few of MESA's founding members were also founding members of AAEE. As a result, MESA shared many aims with AAEE (and still does). Practical collaboration resulted in things such as shared AAEE / MESA conferences. This collaboration moved to a new level in 2014 when MESA united with AAEE.
  • MESA was established as a membership based national network with state and territory "chapters": There were two clear functions here - national projects (eg. Seaweek) plus representation / networking (eg. national conference) and state and territory activities (usually locally based workshops and professional development).

For many years MESA members received a newsletter called Undercurrents. With Undercurrents, MESA members could read about marine projects, workshops, teaching ideas, resources and other marine and coastal information. In more recent years Undercurrents moved from a printed newsletter to an online newsletter. At present there are no plans to reinstate Undercurrents.

Undercurrents Samples

MESA National Conferences

For many years MESA ran a national conference every second (even) year. MESA also joined with AAEE to hold combined conferences in the intervening (odd) years. As well as national conferences MESA used to hold regional conferences, workshops, forums and professional development programs for members throughout Australia.

Major Projects

During the 1990s MESA oversaw a number of marine education projects of local and national significant. At present there are no plans to take on major projects but past examples include:

Moving Forward

As MESA united with AAEE in 2014 it no longer exists as a 'stand alone' society. However, the AAEE Marine & Coastal SIG will now manage successful MESA projects and programs.

  • To honour the incredible voluntary contribution of MESA web manager, the late Peter Biro, the MESA web site will be maintained and updated.
  • The MESA annual national program called Seaweek will be maintained and, ideally, expanded in future years.
  • There will also be a renewed focus on including marine and coastal themes in local, regional and national conferences. Aligned with this outcome is the aim of rebuilding a strong and inclusive national network representing all of Australians interested in marine education.
  • The International networking and leadership facilitated by past MESA members will be maintained. In particular, there are plans to promote the internationally accepted concept of Ocean Literacy extensively here in Australia.

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