A New Raft of Ocean Heroes


What does the president of a Pacific island Nation, a New York Times reporter, a French sailing expedition and the mayor of a small San Diego border town have in common? They are among the eight winners of the 2016 Peter Benchley Ocean Awards, the world’s preeminent honors for ocean conservation, sometimes referred to as “the Academy Awards of the Sea.”

This year’s 9th annual awards will take place at the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium in California where sea otters can often be seen rafting together just offshore. There, on the evening of May 20, 2016 the winners will receive their Mantas award statues designed by the acclaimed marine artist Wyland. This year’s winners are:

For Excellence in National Stewardship – President Tommy Remengesau Jr. of the Republic of Palau

Having helped establish a shark sanctuary, in October 2015 President Tommy Remengesau signed into law legislation protecting 80 percent of his Pacific island nation’s territorial waters from any extractive activities including fishing, drilling and mining—an area larger than California. Palau’s remaining waters will be open to fishing by locals and a limited number of commercial operators. “Creating this sanctuary is a bold move that the people of Palau recognize as essential to our survival,” he announced. In December 2015 President Remengesau also signed an international treaty targeting Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) pirate fishing. “Palau will not tolerate poachers in our ocean. We are getting tough on illegal fishing at home, and today we are signing up for the global fight,” he stated. Palau’s government proved its seriousness when it burned four foreign vessels caught illegally fishing in its waters. Along with these initiatives President Remengasau has also been outspoken on the need for global action to address climate change that threatens many island nations such as Palau.

For Excellence in Science – Dr. —> Read More