To coincide with World Oceans Day, the superyacht community and environmental enthusiasts gathered in London for the sixth edition of Ocean Talks on June 8. Held at The Magazine at The Serpentine North Gallery, the 2023 edition marked a welcome return to an in-person event following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sponsored by Ocean Family Foundation, this year’s event featured a dozen exhibitors showcasing fascinating products and innovations within the ocean conservation sector. Additionally, there was keynote debate from three prominent figures in the industry, and an eye-opening keynote speech from one of the most influential conservation photographers of our time. BOAT rounds up the highlights of the event…
Watch the highlights
Watch the highlights from Ocean Talks 2023 and hear from some of this year's inspirational speakers and exhibitors.
The ocean needs YOU
At this year’s Ocean Talks, Cristina Mittermeier, co-founder of SeaLegacy, delivered a powerful speech about her experiences as a marine biologist, activist and conservation photographer.
Mittermeier spoke about her journey to becoming where she is now, and how she became a scientist when she graduated university in the 1980s because she could see that the ocean was in danger.
A talented and prominent nature photographer, when speaking about her love for animals, Mittermeier said, “I became a photographer because I realised that science is a very difficult language for most people to understand. […] I feel like my photography serves as am ambassador to these creatures that don’t have a voice.” She went on to explain that she coined the term “conservation photography” to encourage other nature photographers to pick up their cameras for conservation. Guests were fortunate enough to see a selection of Mittermeier’s photographs at the event.
Following this, Mittermeier highlighted the fact that there are thousands of non-profit conservation organisations across the globe, but they are invisible due to underfunding. “People are walking out there like zombies completely unaware that the ocean is in so much trouble,” Mittermeier explained. Considering this, she co-founded SeaLegacy as a global marketing, education and communication agency to shine a light on ocean conservation operations around the world.
Mittermeier concluded her speech by adding, “The most important thing that I’ve learned in my 30-year career is that we all tend to sit around thinking that somebody else is surely doing something.” She urged the audience to continue funding ocean conservation projects and talk about the key issues so that we can work together to restore our oceans.
Can we reverse the ocean crisis?
It’s no secret that our oceans are in trouble, but can we reverse the damage? The audience had the pleasure of listening to a conversation on the matter with Lilly Barclay, founding member of Ocean Family Foundation and co-founder of A Plastic Planet + PlasticFree, Sian Sutherland, co-founder and chief changemaker of A Plastic Planet + PlasticFree, and Oliver Steeds OBE, chief executive of the NEKTON Foundation and co-founder of Yachts For Science.
The conversation kicked off with Steeds explaining the importance of knowledge and discovery of marine species. “We’ve only discovered about 10% of what lives in our oceans. If we want to protect what lives in the ocean, we need to know what exists. Cristina said we need to protect 30% of the ocean, but we can’t protect what we don’t know exists.” With the Ocean Census, an initiative founded by the NEKTON Foundation, Steeds aims to discover 100,000 new underwater species in the next 10 years to help us protect more of the ocean.
With thousands of marine conservation missions planned all over the world, Steeds went on to explain that getting access to oceans is one of their biggest setbacks—that’s why he co-founded Yachts For Science, in collaboration with BOAT. Described as a “Tinder” to match the community with science programs, Yachts For Science brings together superyachts and marine scientists to provide access to the oceans. With Yachts For Science, thousands of superyachts that are travelling the globe could be used as platforms for research, facilitating our understanding of the ocean.
It's a well-known fact that plastic is hugely detrimental to the planet, but Sutherland highlighted the sheer volume of the toxic and indestructible material, and even described plastic as an “addiction”. “There is not an inch on our beautiful planet that we have not infected with plastic,” she said. Sutherland added that so many environmental issues are linked to the plastic crisis, explaining that if we stop producing plastic, we will directly and indirectly fix so much else. With this in mind, Barclay and Sutherland founded PlasticFree—a resource for business owners and creators to discover alternatives to plastic so that we can put a stop to its mass production.
Ocean conservation initiatives
As well as our inspirational speakers, there were over a dozen exhibitors at Ocean Talks, offering a wide range of innovative products and ingenious initiatives. Find out more about the invaluable work of the exhibitors here…
A collaboration between Vripack and North Sails and supported by Ocean Family Foundation to develop waste bags from reclaimed sails and given to those who take the beach cleanup pledge.
Acclaimed furniture designer committed to using ocean plastic waste to create stunning pieces that will last the test of time and raise awareness of the issue.
Furniture and surfboards made by keen surfer Frazer Reid using sustainable wood from self-regenerating plantations in Spain.
Luxury furniture made from upcycled grass, seeds, bark, nuts, seashells, eggshells and feathers.
An organisation that seeks out and donates to existing or start-up marine- and ocean-orientated conservation projects, founded by four sea-loving families.
An event showcasing the best short films about seafaring voyages and marine conservation, both above and below the sea’s surface.
High-end apparel created from recycled plastic.
Igniting and inspiring the world to turn off the plastic tap. Its new platform, PlasticFree, is a resource for businesses and creators to find alternative solutions to plastic.
Seventeen-year-old Harry Beasley attempts to travel 1,700 nautical miles around the UK on an electric RIB.
Eco-friendly wine producer that uses minimal plastic-free packaging and donates money to its charity partners for every sale.
Conservation charity that aims to protect marine ecosystems through a number of local and international projects.
Yachts for Science connects superyachts with marine scientists and researchers to provide access to the oceans.