The SEA People Ambassadors
The SEA People Ambassadors are individuals who play a vital role in helping us to achieve our vision, mission, goals and programs in Raja Ampat. They devote a significant amount of voluntary time and energy supporting our work through advocacy, strategic planning, logistics, fund raising and promotion. All our ambassadors are first and foremost champions of the marine environment, and through their respective professions and communities, devote their time to the world’s oceans and seas through conservation and development of sustainable practice around the use of marine resources.
We are immensely honoured, and so very grateful to each of our Ambassadors; without this level of voluntary support, our conservation efforts would fall short in being able achieve their full potential. From the depths of the ocean and the bottom of our hearts, we give our humble thanks to the following amazing individuals.
Greg Johannes has been a senior member of Australia’s temperate marine science community for almost twenty years. He is currently the Chair of the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre and the Independent Chair of the Management Committee for the Australian Antarctic Program Partnership. Between them, these two initiatives will invest more than $250 million over ten years in marine environment research and development and understanding climate change. Based in Hobart, Greg was previously a longstanding director of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. He was also the Head of the State Service in Tasmania, one of the most senior public service positions in Australia. Growing up in places like Palau, Hawaii and Western Australia, as a child Greg spent as much time as possible in, on, or close to the sea and local reefs as he followed his marine biologist father around the world. Greg has a passionate interest in issues affecting the marine environment, and dives and snorkels on the world’s coral reefs whenever he can. Having visited Raja Ampat several times, he was deeply affected by its people and the remote and fragile beauty
Dr Laurent Debas
A Doctor in oceanology, Laurent is a specialist in issues related to fishing, aquaculture and the protection of the marine environment. He has worked in French public institutions (Ifremer and Inra in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region of France, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, France), for the United Nations (FAO, South-East Asia) and for the WWF (World Wild Fund for Nature).
For more than 20 years, his various functions have led him to manage teams and carry out programs for the protection of species and marine areas, sustainable management of fishing resources and the fight against oil pollution. In 2004, he joined Jacques Perrin and the team of the film “Oceans” as a scientific advisor and co-author. Since the end of 2007, after having been a consultant to Nausicaà, he created, with Mathieu Mauvernay, Planète Mer, where he devotes himself fully to the organisations aim of preserving marine life by reconciling the natural balance with economic and social development.
Cédric grew up the South of France, and spent the greatest part of his childhood sailing, snorkelling, exploring and discovering the marine life and ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea. During his teenage years, he accompanied his father travelling extensively throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal, and eventually spent 2 years living in Thailand. These travels formed a deep connection with South East Asia as a region, and in particular, its marine environment.
Going on to become an Agricultural Engineer, and later obtaining degrees in Marine Biology & Ecology, Cedric has dedicated a large part of his professional career to ecology and conservation, and established a training organisation focussing on teaching alternative development techniques in the fields of sustainable construction and organic farming.
A CMAS & PADI Diving instructor, Cedric first discovered the Raja Ampat archipelago in 2014, volunteering in a marine conservation NGO. Falling in love with the place and its people, and aware of the urgency in protecting its biodiversity, he joined The SEA People in 2018 carrying out several field missions and providing ongoing support from France. A strong defender and protector of nature, Cedric is committed to terrestrial and marine socio-environmental causes.
Chris grew up on the Cote D’Azur in France, and became a scuba diver at the age of 11. Falling in love with the ocean and marine life, he went on to become a scuba and rebreather instructor with a successful teaching career. For 15 years he was the proud owner of two dive centers in the Middle East, where he was a pioneer in advocating for environmental awareness, in particular the shark finning industry in Oman.
Chris is currently ownder and editor of Scuba People, an online dive magazine where he combines his love for diving and marine conservation, with his passion for photography. As an ambassador and photographer for The SEA People, he illustrates how a community based ecosystems managemetn approach is benefiting local people and the marine environment.
Dr Steph Venables
Steph is a marine scientist and conservationist whose lifelong fascination with the ocean led her to pursue a career in elasmobranch research. Her work primarily focuses on manta ray ecology and genetics, with an underlying aim of increasing our understanding of threatened species in order to better protect them. Steph has been a research scientist with the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) since 2014, research and conservation NGO based in Mozambique. Steph’s PhD utilised a multi-technique approach (photo identification, telemetry and population genomics) to gather vital information on population size, structure and connectivity that can be used to guide regional management and conservation strategies of manta rays in southern Mozambique, where she is now based full time. Steph also manages the MMF Raja Ampat manta ray research project and has been studying and monitoring the manta rays in this region since 2014. In addition to her scientific approach, Steph is passionate about educating communities and visitors about marine conservation and empowering future scientists and conservationists to protect the reefs in their local waters.