The Greek Sea is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots of Europe, hosting rare species of cetaceans and mammals, from common dolphins, to sperm whales and unique flora such as seagrass meadows. According to the IUCN Red List these rare species are all threatened with extinction. Τhe Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus for example, is an endangered marine mammal and almost half of its population is found in the area of Greece.
The biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea is threatened by various factors which means that action for the protection and safeguarding of marine natural resources is of great importance. Habitat destruction, marine litter, oil pollution, overfishing, deliberate killing of endangered marine mammals, and the use of inappropriate fishing equipment, constitute major threats for our marine ecosystems.
Unless action is taken now our natural reserves will be eliminated.
Since 2004, initially though its founder, Thalassa Foundation has taken numerous initiatives aiming at the protection of marine life.
In 2004, the full cost of “Nereis” was covered. Nereis is a vessel properly equipped with all the necessary navigational and research instruments and served several research expeditions of Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, the findings of which have gained international acclaim.
Next, and in order to preserve the biodiversity of the marine environment, Thalassa Foundation conceded a large lot of 850m2 to MOm (Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal) for the creation of a fully organised environmental centre on the island of Alonissos.
From 2010-2013 the Foundation supported the “Thalassa” project, an integrated campaign for Marine Mammals. The main objective of “Thalassa” was to inform, sensitise, and activate the society and relevant bodies, regarding the current status of marine mammal populations, threatened with extinction by human-related activities.
In 2013-2014 the Foundation supported “Clean Up the Med”, an annual nationwide voluntary clean up initiative, which, in Greece, is coordinated by MedSOS. “Clean Up the Med” aims at raising public awareness on the issue of marine litter, fostering a sense of environmental responsibility and leading to a large-scale litter survey.
In 2014, Thalassa, along with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation co-financed the “Argosaronikos” project for MOm, in order to monitor and record the population of monk seals in that area.
In the beginning of 2017, as a continuation of its projects aimed at the protection of marine mammals, Thalassa has resolved to co-fund the “Mapping for Conservation” project, a 3-year project through which, for the first time in history, Greece will have a complete picture and a full status report of the areas hosting this wonderful and endangered species.
The results of the “Rapid assessment survey of the status of Monachus monachus in the eastern Aegean Sea” (Chios, Psara, Oinousses) launched in 2016 will be the first to be incorporated in the status report, and will be followed by the Peloponnese, Crete, Evia, the Ionian and the Eastern Aegean islands.
During 2015-2016, Thalassa supported several initiatives to tackle plastics pollution, starting with Alonissos which set out to become the first plastic-bag-free island though the exemplary "Plastic Bag Free Alonissos" project, implemented by the Mediterranean SOS Network and MOm.
In 2017, Thalassa is co-funding -with FPAII and the Municipality of Skiathos- the “Active Skiathos Against Plastic Bag (ASAP)”, which lies under the BEMED umbrella of projects and will be implemented by the Mediterranean SOS Network. The project also entails synergies and parallel actions in Alonissos, belonging in the same island complex of N. Sporades.
Konstantinos (Costas) Apodiakos - President
The President of Thalassa Foundation, Konstantinos Apodiakos, was born in 1956, in London. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Manchester University. Now retired, he ended his working career as the CEO of Victoria Steamship Company Ltd. London. As of 2004, and as result of his life and work being inextricably linked to the sea, Costas has been an active supporter of various environmental projects, more so regarding the protection of the Mediterranean Sea and believes that successful business can only be achieved when the natural environment and our basic human values are fully respected. Costas speaks Greek and English. Costas enjoys sailing, swimming, riding motor bikes and he is interested in history, astronomy and philosophy.
Vera Alexandropoulou - Vice President
Vera Alexandropoulou is a graduate of the Faculty of Law of the University of Athens with postgraduate studies at the University of Heidelberg and Harvard University. Vera has been a qualified Greek lawyer since 1998, UK Solicitor since 2004 and has obtained her Cyprus Bar registration in early 2017. Vera has worked for the Harvard Business School, for a New York based leading law firm, for one of the biggest UK law firms with international presence and for the Piraeus Port Authority. She established her own law firm in 2005 which combines a strong commercial and charity practice. Specialised in fund structures, shipping, energy and environmental law, Vera is also fluent in Greek, English, French, German and Spanish and speaks Chinese. She enjoys swimming, travelling and practising yoga.
Henri Hentsch - Member
Henri Hentsch was born in 1968 and he is a Swiss citizen. He is married and has four children. Henri is the founder and CEO of H. Hentsch Asset Management, established in 2010. He has sixteen years of experience in banking, including eight years with LODH, Geneva, as Senior Private Banker, six years with Merill Lynch Private Banking, London, as Relationship Manager and two years with NatWest Markets, London, as Fixed Income Sales. He also holds a SFA licence for the UK market. Henri studied at HEC Lausanne and has a Bachelor Degree in Finance and Banking. His succesful career in the financial sector makes his being part of Thalassa Foundation all the more important, as funding for charity work has always been crucial. Henri speaks French, English, German and Norwegian. He enjoys ski, golf, sailing and fishing.