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Introducing ECOP Italy

The Italian node of the ECOP Programme aims to channel efforts and build opportunities within the national territory, while creating a network that leverages the synergies with other ongoing initiatives in the Mediterranean context.

To ensure the protection of Italy’s fragile marine biodiversity, a renewed interest in exploring and studying the sea is imperative. In addition, further efforts are needed  to raise awareness about ocean-related benefits and threats among the Italian population. The UN Ocean Decade is an unprecedented historical moment to learn more about the ocean and become more emotionally connected with it. A radical shift in the way we study and value the ocean is needed, also to ensure that the UN Ocean Decade outcomes and challenges are met.

As ECOPs, we want to join this “once in a lifetime” opportunity to work together to create the ocean we want, joining forces to create a network of young ocean experts.


 ECOP Italy is a network of motivated members that are willing to:

  • Promote ocean advocacy,
  • Inspire younger generations in pursuing a career in ocean related fields, while eradicating misconceptions around ocean-related careers,
  • Share experience and provide guidance, supporting university students in their career progression and development,                        
  • Support and spread learning opportunities for ECOPs in the Italian territory,
  • Share job and career opportunities for ECOPs in the Italian territory,
  • Raise our voices to reach policy-makers to have our needs catered for/listened, while promoting the interface of ocean society-policy and becoming involved in policy making process,
  • Promote the transboundary vision and emphasise importance of diplomacy, in ocean governance policies and capacity building in Blue Economy,
  • Promote initiatives connected with the ocean that can generate a positive social impact.



Our node has the ambition of becoming a practical resource for ECOPs and ECOPs wannabee, to support them while promoting transdisciplinarity and inclusivity.

ECOP Italy will adopt a national approach, hand in hand with the Mediterranean marine community, taking into account the policy framework and promoting long-lasting synergies within the Mediterranean basin.


ECOP Italy is an open and volunteer network. An ECOP is considered as a person that self-identifies as being early in their career (10 years or less of professional experience) in any field related to the ocean (not only employed/ paid positions). The term “professional” is used in order to be inclusive of professionals from many different sectors of society.  For example, ECOP Italy can be joined by:

  • Students (BSc, MSc, PhD, etc.);
  • Graduates;
  • Early career professionals;

interested in ocean related issues and willing to support the mission of ECOP Italy. The above list is not exhaustive and may be updated following spontaneous requests for participation.


 Members can join ECOP Italy through a membership agreement by sending their expression of interest to, or upon invitation by ECOP Italy.

ECOP Italy coordination unit

Tecla Maggioni

Background: Marine Biology and Oceanography

Affiliation: SUBMON

Interests: Ocean literacy, marine conservation and regeneration, MPAs, community engagement, seafood traceability

Karina M. Higa

Background: Marine Ethnobiologist and Educator

Affiliation: University of Milan-Bicocca

Interests: Ocean literacy, Fisheries policies, social impact initiatives, social inclusion


Strategically positioned in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy has a coastal length of about 8,300 km. Throughout history, Italian culture has been strictly influenced by the closeness to the sea. The Mediterranean Sea has been the cradle of great civilizations, and its waters now hide a substantial heritage of archaeological treasures. It has witnessed the great deed of the Roman Empire, the rise of the Italian Maritime Republics, supporting the economic prosperity of the Italian population. 

Fishing activities have played a primary role in the Italian tradition, with fish being one of the four main components of the Mediterranean diet. 

The Italian population, especially those living in the coastal areas, have a long-standing emotional connection with the sea, thus resulting in many traditional celebrations and folklore that still exist today. 

Today, Italy is the third largest Blue Economy in Europe, with coastal and maritime tourism being one of the leading sectors. 

Italy has 32 Marine Protected Areas, 11 of which are also listed as SPAMI (Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Interest), and quite an extensive network of marine areas defined under the Natura 2000 framework.

Italy has a long-standing leadership in ocean exploration and research: the first in situ measurements of seawater density that referred to a geographical position at sea and time of the year are attributed to the Italian scientist Luigi Ferdinando Marsili between 1679 and 1680. Also, in 1872 was founded one of the first marine Zoological stations in Naples by Anton Dohrn.

Despite this primacy and fertile ground for ocean science in Italy, today ocean-related careers tend to be vague, uncertain, and unstable, thus discouraging young people from pursuing a career in this field. The lack of acknowledgment of the ocean’s importance for our life aggravates this situation.


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