#OURSEA kicks off at Helsinki International Boat Show: “This is the start of a super year for the Baltic Sea”

#OURSEA is an exceptionally large fundraising campaign to save the Baltic Sea: the goal is to reach EUR 1 million this year with the help of the Moomins. With the support of Orion and other partners the campaign has already raised nearly a quarter of its target.

“When the first Moomin story, The Moomins and the Great Flood, was published in 1945, Tove Jansson was just over 30 years old and had spent all her summers in the archipelago. Tove drew her inspiration for all her works from the sea,” explained Sophia Jansson, Tove Jansson’s niece and the Creative Director of Moomin Characters, at the Helsinki International Boat Show on 7th February.

“If Tove were here today to see the state of her deeply beloved Gulf of Finland, I think she would do everything in her power to protect it.”


Protecting the sea and the cultural heritage is close to the Moomins’ hearts

Moomin Characters and the John Nurminen Foundation’s joint #OURSEA campaign, in which Moomins play a key role in collecting funds to save the Baltic Sea, was launched to the public at the Messukeskus exhibition centre.

“In honour of their 75th anniversary we wanted to do something that would allow the Moomins make the world go around just that little bit more sensibly. The sea and its stories are very close to the life philosophy of the Jansson family and Tove’s art,” said Roleff Kråkström, Managing Director of Moomin Characters.

That is why the staff at Moomin Characters were particularly pleased about the cooperation with the John Nurminen Foundation: in its work to protect the Baltic Sea, the Foundation is also aiming to preserve the cultural heritage of the sea.


A stroke of luck for the Baltic Sea

For the John Nurminen Foundation, the proposal to run a joint campaign with the world-famous Moomins was a stroke of luck.

“This is the start of a super year for the Baltic Sea,” said Secretary General of the Foundation Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt.

“The #OURSEA campaign is the most high-profile campaign with the largest fundraising target in the Foundation’s 30-year history. This is actually the largest-ever campaign that has taken place in Finland to protect the Baltic Sea.”

During the year the aim is to raise EUR 1 million for the Baltic Sea, and by launch day the campaign had already racked up nearly EUR 250,000.

This figure is primarily made up of the donations of the organisations and companies who have joined the campaign. One of these is Orion, who has been a main partner of the John Nurminen Foundation since 2018. Orion has donated EUR 48,000 to the #OURSEA campaign, while Moomin Characters has donated EUR 150,000.


The John Nurminen Foundation’s work for the Baltic Sea is expanding 

All the funds raised will be used for the John Nurminen Foundation’s Baltic Sea projects. There is good news and bad news about the state of the Baltic Sea, which is one of the most polluted seas in the world.

“The good news is that the external nutrient loads to the Baltic Sea have been reduced considerably over the past 40 years. At the start of the 1980s the annual phosphorus load was 70,000 tonnes, while it is now 31,000 tonnes. The bad news is that another 10,000 tonnes needs to be reduced from the load before we reach a sustainable level ecologically speaking,” Arrakoski-Engardt explained.

So, there is plenty to do. The John Nurminen Foundation has already helped the Baltic Sea with 40 projects, and at the launch of the #OURSEA campaign the Foundation also publicised two new initiatives.

The first is the fertiliser shipping project, which aims to cut down nutrient emissions caused by the shipping of fertilisers. The aim of the other project is to preserve the cultural heritage of the Baltic Sea. During the spring the project will collect Finnish people’s memories of the Baltic Sea for an exhibition that will open on 27 August, Baltic Sea Day.


Finns saddened by the state of the sea – now is the time for action

Tapio Salo, who visited the Helsinki International Boat Show on #OURSEA launch day, is unfortunately very familiar with the poor condition of the Baltic Sea: he has been boating on the Finnish Archipelago Sea and the coast of Estonia for three decades. He was horrified by the vast blue-green algae blooms of the hot summer of 2018.

“The layer of algae in the Hanko port basin looked like you could have walked over it,” Salo said, and added that there have also been signs of improvement. At times the bladder wrack, which is a sign of a healthy sea, seemed to have vanished completely, but Salo has seen it again during the past few years.

Heidi Mäki and Hanne Lindroos were also by the #OURSEA exhibition stand.

“Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind about the Baltic Sea is pollution,” Mäki said.

For Lindroos the Baltic Sea represents the area where she is from and a familiar landscape. She lives in Espoo, but she has particularly close ties to the sea in the Turku archipelago. They are both pleased that people have woken up to the seriousness of the Baltic Sea’s situation, and that people are taking action.

“The battle for the Baltic Sea has not been lost, but we can’t go on like this. We have to work hard to save the sea,” Lindroos said.


#OURSEA will be represented at events throughout the year

Mäki and Lindroos were also interested in the campaign from a professional perspective. They work for the Helsinki Book Fair, and this autumn’s fair will feature the same large #OURSEA exhibition stand as the one at the Helsinki International Boat Show. The Messuskeskus exhibition centre provided the spot for the campaign free of charge, as well as supporting the campaign in other ways.

“It is fantastic to work for a company that believes in an important cause,” Mäki states.

As well as fairs, the #OURSEA campaign will also be seen at many other events throughout the year.

“One of the highlights will be the National Museum’s upcoming exhibition on Tove Jansson and the Moomins,” says Roleff Kråkström. The Courage, Freedom, Love! exhibition will open on 15 May.


Text: Sanna Jäppinen