Sea Nation

George Dibbern: His Life and Quest

Adventurer ~ Sailor-Philosoper ~ Free Thinker ~ Self-declared Citizen of the World


In August I mentioned my interest in the Citizens of the Sea movement which originated in 1970. With the help of John Lund (whom I met at the the Wooden Boat Festival Port Townsend in September 2006) I was able to track down the driving force behind the creation of Citizens of the Sea, Jeremy Hewett, who used to live in the same neighbourhood as we did in Victoria, BC. Jeremy put together this brief history.

CITIZENS OF THE SEA • A BRIEF HISTORY by Jeremy Hewett • October 2006

September 3 1970 at 10.30 PDT the Sea was officially and unilaterally declared an Independent Nation.

The ceremony took place aboard the Ketch Meriah in the Harbour at Victoria Canada. Jeremy Hewett conducted the proceedings, Lodo Wertheim-Aimes assisted and there were many witnesses including CBC Television. The basic precepts of the Seanation as printed in the passports were read aloud and applauded.

The basic idea had been originally discussed between J.H., James Wharram (designer of Catamarans) and others waiting in Las Palmas harbour to cross the Atlantic in late 1956. It was decided that if any of us ever had some spare time and money we would print passports and take other steps to establish a Seanation.

J .H. [Jeremy Hewett] lost touch with the others over time but had somehow by 1970 accumulated time and enough money to print the original run of 1000 passports. Design work was done by Peter Thornton-Trump of Victoria.

It was assumed from the start that the Seas and Oceans should comprise a single nation though the door was left open for inland bodies of water to obtain associate status. The Great Lakes of North America applied for and received this as the “Commonwealth of Shemo” January 15 1971.

The Borders of the Seanation were declared to be “Low Tide Level as shown on current and future nautical charts of the world”. This would comprise well over 70% of the surface of the globe and adjoin most of the “Land” nations. In this way we would not be in direct conflict over half tidal areas and such.

There was an immediate question of the status of the “Territorial Waters” and “Economic Zones” — the three, twelve and 200 mile offshore claims of the land nations. These were declared Invalid but the Seanation would not make an issue of the matter. We decided rather to declare matching “Maritime Lands” and “Economic Zones” inland from our low tideline boundaries. These substantial claims covering all the ports and most of the major cities on the planet would be offered in “Free Exchange” for the claims of the land nations over the Sea. Meanwhile we would reserve the right to administer the land claim areas in a manner similar to their treatment of their invalidly claimed areas. We would in fact establish land titles, development permits, licenses of all sorts from driving to business and so on. The fees for these licenses, permits etc. would be payable either in local currency or Oceanic Dollars. Oceanic Dollars are fully gold-backed by the gold dissolved in Seawater at the rate of 38 troy ounces per cubic mile of Seawater. There are approximately 330 million cubic miles of Seawater. This could be considered our major liquid asset: known to be there but difficult to remove. There is much more gold and numerous other assets in the Seabed. The Seanation is definitely the most wealthy single entity on the planet.

Needless to say, many of these claims and financial arrangements may appear frivolous or threatening to Landsmen But it is well to consider the timing and aims of the Seanation at the date of Independence.

1970 was at the height of the Cold War. It seemed to be endless. It seemed to be going nowhere. The Seanation was presented as a common threat to the Land Nations in the hope that they would see the sense of co-operating with each other. Aliens had failed to appear, so we could be the common enemy and bring some unity to the United Nations. Due to the overwhelming size of the Seanation we claimed as many seats in the UN as all the land nations combined. This claim was ignored. We were also prepared to pay our full dues to the UN and all its agencies in Oceanic Dollars through our bank – Banco Del Mar. Our common borders with most land nations combined with whatever leverage we could get from our Maritime Land Claim areas would give us a unique opportunity to act as peacemakers in such places as Ireland and the Middle East.

Citizenship in the Seanation is offered free as a primary citizenship to any who wish it including many stateless persons, etc., but mostly to persons living on or near the Sea, who have more in common with other “Sea people” than with the land bound people of the nations to which they find themselves accidentally attached. Citizenship is also offered free as a secondary citizenship to any who wish to have it without giving up their primary land affiliation. Passports can be bought with Local or Oceanic currency.

We always wanted to keep bureaucracy, etc., to a minimum particularly during the confrontational phase. There was to be no capital, no central HQ, no leader — nothing to be attacked or destroyed. No books, lists or correspondence was kept. There was no payroll. Any cash received went to help defray printing costs of Passports, Oceanic currency, Postage stamps, Diplomatic papers, Stationery etc.

The matter of issuing licenses and registration papers for shipping, fishing etc was of immediate concern. These were to be issued free or at nominal charge for persons or vessels engaged in peaceful endeavour. Vessels of War, however, as listed in “Jaynes Fighting Ships” were to be heavily taxed and operating permits for such vessels in the numerous Maritime National Parks would be very expensive indeed. These Parks were declared in numerous places such as Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay, The English Channel, The Inland Sea of Japan and The Persian Gulf.

Most of the above is written in the past tense but the idea of a Seanation, Domain/Dominion of the Sea exists awaiting new energy. The idea is valid and the need for it continues and grows. The land nations prove again and again that they are not the best guardians of their own turf let alone the Seas which they have grossly abused over the centuries – using the Sea as both a resource to be plundered and a dumping ground for their wastes. Citizenship is mainly in the minds of those who want or need it. Passports are temporarily out of print. It is hoped to develop a new type of passport that can be downloaded from the internet. It is hoped that some Seaminded spirit with the ability to create and manage a website will come forward to take up the task.

Jeremy’s suggestions for a website: or … or?