The issue

The Zoo Basel planned to build a large aquarium in the city centre of Basel (Switzerland). Costs for building the “Ozeanium” ran up to over 100 million Swiss Francs ‒ and this at a time when the world’s oceans are under greater threat than ever. Almost one third of the world’s coral reefs have perished, and another 20 per cent will be gone in 10 to 20 years.

Large aquariums only exacerbate this kind of destruction, because they rely on importing many of the species they house by capturing them from the wild, as they cannot be farmed. Various coral fish species have already died out in their local environments, or are threatened with extinction.

It is unacceptable for marine life to be exhibited like this in Basel: trapped and exhibiting maladjusted behaviours. All the more so, considering that the facility would have devoured huge amounts of energy in the form of pumps, water treatment, cooling and heating systems.

Our project

Our mission was to prevent the construction of this wholly unnecessary Ozeanium! The multi-million dollar marine aquarium project was not in line with Basel’s forward-looking spirit and was entirely unreconcilable with its aim of becoming a 2,000-watt-society.

And this is precisely why Fondation Franz Weber launched the campaign “NOzeanium – Say NO to the Ozeanium!”. Blazing a trail in the fight against the ludicrous 100-million-francs project, Foundation Franz Weber put every effort into convincing the Grand Council of Basel to oppose the construction of the “Ozeanium”.

Despite intensive work by the foundation to educate and raise awareness, on 17 October 2018 the Grand Council of Basel-City declared their support for the construction of the “Ozeanium”. Fondation Franz Weber immediately arranged for a referendum against this decision. Together with environmental organisations, marine conservationists, experts, and many other motivated supporters, we were able to collect nearly 5,000 signatures within the canton’s referendum deadline and submitted these to the Basel-City State Chancellery on 28 November 2018.

On 15 December 2018, the State Chancellery published the result of the signature verification:
4,649 people had signed for a referendum against the “Ozeanium”. It was therefore clear: the “Ozeanium”-project was going to be put to the vote in the canton of Basel-City (see press release from 21 December 2018).

Success! On 19 May 2019, the eligible voters of Basel said NO to the “Ozeanium” by 54.56% to 45.44%. This vote was based on sound judgement and moral progress. The people of Basel have delivered a strong message to the global community: “We must protect the oceans where they are.” (see press release from 19 May 2019)

More information:

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Our goals

  • Stop the construction of the large aquarium Ozeanium in Basel
  • Protect and preserve the biodiversity of our seas and oceans
  • Protect endangered marine inhabitants from extinction

Facts and Figures


0 million Swiss Francs
0 out of 5 fish
CAUGHT FROM THE WILD will not make it to an aquarium alive
0 million coral fish