After staging several Sea Life Festivals from 1997 to 2002, OceanNEnvironment Ltd conceptualised and launched “Celebrate the Sea Festival 2002” in Singapore to promote greater awareness of the beauty and the importance of our seas. Since most life on Earth is aquatic, in terms of both diversity and biomass, it seems reasonable to direct greater interest in the ocean, to appreciate each and every living creature that makes up the vast biospheres that effectively influence our existence, climate, weather and the mechanism that made this water planet a hospitable place for life. Celebrate the Sea Festival promotes appreciation and greater awareness of the beauty of the sea.

The first Celebrate the Sea was launched in 2002 at ADEX – Asian Diver Expo with presentations at the Hilton Hotel. The Award Gala dinner was staged at the Raffles Mariner. The keynote speakers were David Doubilet and Stan Waterman. In 2003, the festival was staged in Kuala Lumpur – the keynotes that year were Emory Kristof and David Doubilet. Since 2002, the festival has evolved to be the most exciting event of the sea in the Asia Pacific. The event has now been staged in Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong and several times in Singapore.

The three-day event features the latest in marine feature documentaries, a children’s art competition, an exhibition featuring an international prints in competition and a poster display on marine environmental issues. Past presenters at Celebrate the Sea comprise some of the world’s most prominent luminaries in underwater imaging and science including: Stan Waterman, David Doubilet, Sylvia Earle PhD, Phil Nyutten Phd, Gerry Allen PhD, Emory Kristof, Peter Scoones (BBC Planet Earth, Blue Planet etc), Michael AW, Carden Wallace PhD, Valerie Taylor, Lindsay Porter PhD, Leandro Blanco, Mathieu Meur, Jacky Stanley, Mark Erdmann PhD, just to name a few. Celebrate the Sea is proudly presented by OceanNENvironment in association with The World Festival of Underwater Pictures, Antibes Juan Les Pins from 2002 to 2010.

One of the objectives of Celebrate the Sea Festival is to inspire nations and countries to take a day each year to celebrate the sea. In September 2007, Michael AW, founder of the festival, lobbied to Usec Cynthia Carrion and in March 2008, he wrote officially to Her Excellency Gloria Arroyo, President of the Republic of Philippines. On 13 May 2008, President Arroyo made an official proclamation declaring June as Celebrate the Sea month and every 2nd Saturday of June as Celebrate the Sea day.  Philippines become the first country in the world to declare an official day in the year to celebrate the sea.

Letter to Her Excellency Gloria M. Arroyo

In 2011, Celebrate the Sea celebrated its 10th Anniversary in Manado, Indonesia with over 3,000 entries in the children’s art competition and nearly 1,000 entries for the international underwater imaging competitions. Over 80 children from Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore and India competed in the final.

2013 June Michael AW successfully lobbied to the Ministry of Fisheries and Trade of Brunei to ban the import and trade of shark products; on 8 June, at the 12th Celebrate the Sea Festival 2013 the festival celebrate the most momentous biggest milestone since the inception of the festival in 2002.  Minister Pehin Dato Yahya in his opening speech declared: “His Majesty, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, through the Department of Fisheries, will enforce the ban on the catch and landings of all shark species from the waters of Brunei Darussalam and thus their sales in the domestic market. Furthermore, the government will also now officially enforce the ban on the importation and trade of all shark products.” Brunei was the first country in the world to declare a ban on shark fins and all shark products