FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FEBRUARY 21, 2012
Contact: David Helvarg (510) 778-8470 – Mary Kadzielski (202) 387-8030
Long-time Coastal Champion one of 3 California winners to be honored with Peter Benchley Ocean Awards
What: Blue Frontier Campaign / Peter Benchley Ocean Awards – 2012 winners
When & Where: Friday, June 1, California Academy of Sciences, SF.
San Francisco: For more than 40 years of work providing access to and protecting California’s coastline long time Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas has been named the 2012 Peter Benchley Ocean Awards’ Hero of the Seas. The awards are named after ‘Jaws’ author and lifetime marine wildlife conservationist Peter Benchley. The upcoming 5th annual awards, the preeminent ocean prize are the only existing awards that acknowledge outstanding achievement leading to the protection of our coasts and ocean across a broad range of categories. Of this year’s seven winners three are from California including Peter Douglas.
Peter Douglas helped create the California Coastal Commission and organized efforts to get it passed as an initiative in 1972. He wrote the language of the Coastal Act passed in 1976 and went on to work for the Commission to assure public access to and deny reckless development along California’s 1,100 miles of stunning coastline. Executive Director from 1985 to 2011 when he resigned following a long and ongoing battle with cancer, Peter Douglas has been compared to John Muir and Ansel Adams as a hero of the state’s environment. “The Coast is never saved,” he’s noted. “The Coast is always being saved.”
Award Presenter – CA. Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird
The 2012 winner for Excellence In Solutions is Dr. Geraldine Knatz the Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles, “America’s Port.” Dr. Knatz has been leading the cleanup of the LA /Long Beach port complex, the largest in the Western Hemisphere, since 2006 dramatically improving air and water quality. She has also become a world leader in the greening ports movement as President of the International Assoc. of Harbors and Ports.
Award Presenter – Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin
The winner of the 2012 Excellence in Exploration award is Ocean in Google Earth.
Inspired by a challenge from ocean explorer Sylvia Earle, GOOGLE’s Ocean in Google Earth has become a portal for anyone with access to a computer to virtually explore and experience some of the wonders of our blue ocean planet in ways that until recently only a handful of humans have been able to.
Award Presenter Don Walsh is one of only two humans to have reached the deepest point on our planet seven miles below the ocean back in 1960.
Other of this years winners who will be attending include:
For Policy – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D RI) is the major advocate for ocean protection in the U.S. Senate. He recently helped establish the Senate Ocean Caucus.
For Science – Dr. Nancy Rabalais, who identified the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone and has worked tirelessly to reduce its upstream causes.
For Media – National Geographic Photographer Brian Skerry. His work, new book ‘Ocean Soul,’ and public outreach efforts provide both wonder and warning on the state of our ocean.
For the Christopher Benchley Youth Award – Ta’Kaiya Blaney is a ten-year-old first nations Canadian activist whose amazing singing and engagement have inspired opponents of a planned oil complex on Canada’s western shore.
“Too often, people have seen environmental conservation as ending at the shore’s edge,” said David Helvarg, Awards co-founder and Executive Director of the Blue Frontier Campaign. “But it’s becoming increasingly clear, we are all linked to the seas around us, we are all dependent on the ocean for our economic security, sustenance and solace. We created the Benchley awards to honor those who have dedicated their lives to ocean defense, and who offer solutions that can still help turn the tide.”
“I am proud to honor these heroes of the seas,” said Wendy Benchley, marine conservationist, Awards co-founder and wife of the late Peter Benchley. “Each individual has made an immense impact in ocean conservation. Together they have the knowledge and resources to create progressive ocean policies. Now is the time to listen.”
Based in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, CA, the Blue Frontier Campaign works to build the constituency for and raise awareness of the solution-oriented marine conservation community.
Journalists and editors please go to www.bluefront.org for more information or contact David Helvarg (510) 778-8470 for follow up or to contact any of this year’s winners.