Pascal Alphonse and the Phoenix Expedition, working to restore marine ecosystems

Living “with my nose in the sea” and for the Ocean

The sea became part of my universe at a very young age, through my readings, my heroes, holidays on the Embiez islands and especially the discovery of scuba diving almost twenty years ago. Sailing only came later, thanks to the Naval School. Then I decided two years ago, to finally feel like a real sailor, with my nose in the sea spray, to go and live directly on my sailboat in Brest. It is with him that we will cross the Atlantic in February 2022 with the Phoenix expedition, for the restoration of marine ecosystems.

The blue line of the sea

I have a rather strange background, first the ESSEC, then the Navy, a biology degree in the middle, and now a sailing expedition to California where I will continue my training. My “blue” thread is the environment and more particularly my desire to help the Ocean, since I wish to reconvert to marine conservation. Phoenix is the perfect transition between my life at sea these last ten years, and my life for the sea.

A transatlantic race for the restoration of marine ecosystems

Passionate about sailing expeditions of the past and present, from Cook to Tara, I have always wanted to launch a project like this one. But for what? I wanted something that would restore people’s faith in possible solutions to the climate and biological crisis – not just raise awareness.

The theme of restoring marine ecosystems came to me as I read more about it and met Anne-Sophie Roux, founder of Tenaka, a company specialising in the field. Restoring marine ecosystems, our planet’s primary carbon sink, could be a sustainable solution to the climate crisis. I then met the president of the Fondation de la Mer, Sabine Roux de Bézieux, thanks to the ESSEC alumni network, which enabled me to launch the project, in cooperation with Tenaka.

The Phoenix expedition, meeting local actors who regenerate marine life

From February to June 2022, we will directly help local actors restoring mangroves, corals, seagrass beds and underwater forests by giving them communication tools, filming them and connecting them to the business world and the general public. We will meet several restoration projects: seagrass beds in the Canary Islands, corals and mangroves in the French West Indies, mangroves in Costa Rica and macro-algae forests in Mexico and the USA (kelp). And before that, we will discover the restoration of the huitrier reefs in Brest, an ecosystem that once lined all of Europe’s Atlantic coasts, before it was decimated.

We have carefully selected these projects with our scientific advisors and partners. We do not want a single gram of greenwashing, because we know that the world of “blue carbon” is also a new Eldorado that attracts forgers…

A trained and united crew

Our crew of four has been preparing for several months. Bénie, who will be our first mate, in charge of life on board, is my companion. This will be the first time we have lived through such an experience together. Louise, a marine biologist, and Anatole, a videographer, will be in charge of operations (meetings with local projects) and creating images for a web-series on Youtube. For them too, this will be an adventure without comparison.

The preparation is also material, the boat having benefited from important work (rigging, electricity, motorisation) to be ready for these 10 000 nautical miles.

Phoenix Expedition needs your help

Our crowdfunding campaign is underway on the Ekosea platform, and we have already reached half of our final objective (200%). Thanks to our general interest status, but also thanks to the support of the Fondation de la Mer which hosts the project, two thirds of donations are tax-free. We also offer turnkey CSR solutions for companies that would like to invest in their own marine ecosystem restoration.

Thank you to all those who will give us a little help. At the time of the COP26, we are on the side of the solutions, it is time to act in a frank and useful way, that is what we propose!