okeanos - Foundation for the sea

Okeanos - Foundation for the Sea

Information about the ocean and its threats is abundant – both online and in print. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with the amount of news and it is more than we can process. We at Okeanos - Foundation for the Sea do not want to focus on the deluge of negative information and the seemingly insurmountable challenges humankind and our surrounding ecosystems are facing. Rather, we are turning our attention to those individuals and communities that are making positive steps to heal our oceans and to reconnect us with the sea.

In the past few years we focussed our work on those topics that haven't, yet, been discussed sufficiently and thoroughly, and we tried to initiate and advance these through conferences and workshops that were organized, funded and guided by Okeanos. This included for example the multi-disciplinary "Workshop on noise-related Stress in Marine Mammals" in 2007, the workshops “Noise from Shipping Operations and Marine Life: Technical, Operational and Economic Aspects of Noise Reduction“ in 2008 and "Assessing the Cumulative Impacts of Underwater Noise with Other Anthropogenic Stressors on Marine Mammals: From Ideas to Action“, followed by a workshop on “Alternative Technologies to Seismic Airgun Surveys for Oil and Gas Exploration and their Potential for Reducing Impacts on Marine Mammals” in 2009.

Our last workshop “Kava Bowl Ocean Summit” took place in Hawai’i in summer 2011. People with different experiences, expertise and cultural backgrounds discussed, how much climate change in the ocean will cost us if we delay action. In addition the summit gave rise to several important projects and working groups, and our foundation Pacific Voyagers came into being.

Meanwhile we have turned our attention towards the media, in particular the communication medium film, as we believe that it reaches the largest audience and that it is best suited in order to tell and spread stories and inspire them to get involved and take action for the benefit and the protection of our oceans.

The first success story that we supported financially in this regard was the PBS TV series “Saving The Ocean” by Carl Safina, well-known conservationist, bestselling author and founding president of the “Blue Ocean Institute”. In a total of 12 half-hour episodes he chronicles the unsung heroes who are hard at work inventing and implementing solutions to save the world’s oceans.

At the same time we intend to encourage discussions and actions through those films that we either produce or finance ourselves. Our documentaries show how ordinary people become “Heroes of the Pacific”, they tell stories that both arouse and demonstrate that every one of us can have a positive impact on the future of the ocean and thus our society, no matter how small one individual’s steps may seem. You will soon find more information about the documentaries “Our Blue Canoe”, “Unity” and the new movie of Academy Award Winner Louie Psihoyos on our website.

However, beside all these activities, our main focus lies on practicle projects and success stories that are already exercised and developed and funded by Okeanos. The beginning of these was the voyage “Te Mana O Te Moana” (“The Spirit of the Sea”), where a fleet of seven ocean voyaging canoes called “Vaka Moana” (“Boat of the Ocean”) that were built in Aotearoa, New Zealand, based on traditional design but equipped with the latest solar technology, crossed the Pacific in a voyage that commenced in April 2011 and ended – after a total of approximately 210,000 nm – in July 2012. This voyage marked a first milestone and lead to a number of other projects by the Pacific Voyagers Foundation, especially related to sustainable ocean voyaging.

The design and construction of three different boat types – the Vaka Moana (Open Ocean Sailing Canoe), the Vaka Motu (Inter-Island Operation Canoe) and the Vaka Hapua (Lagoon Operation Canoe – currently in the design and approval phase) as a prerequisite for the development of a reliable and sustainable environment-friendly transport system for people living on Pacific islands – is the most important one. These vaka are based on the cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and experiences of the Pacific islanders who have lived on their islands sustainably and are intrinsically linked to the ocean and the environment.

These three different type of boats provide alternatives and solutions for almost every routine transport requirement of the Pacific islands and shall help to return a major part of all local traffic to local hands which brings about great advantages for the welfare of the Pacific people in every aspect as well as for the health of the ocean and the environment. We are focussing all of our funds and other resources on this project in order to help turning the vision of a fossil-free Pacific region into reality and to make this a success story for the Pacific ocean and its inhabitants. 


"The Devolution of the Seas" - Article by Alan B. Sielen in the Foreign Affairs Magazine