FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 9, 2012
Contact: David Helvarg (510) 778-8470 – Mary Kadzielski (202) 387-8030
President Anote Tong of Kiribati to Receive Peter Benchley Ocean Award
What: Blue Frontier Campaign / Peter Benchley Ocean Awards – 2012 winners
When & Where: Friday, June 1, California Academy of Sciences, SF.
San Francisco: On March 8 the BBC and other media outlets reported that President Anote Tong of Kiribati was in negotiations with the nation of Fiji for land to provide new opportunities for his people whose low-lying island nation of 130,000 faces inundation from rising seas linked to climate change.
President Tong, recently re-elected for a third term in office, has become a globally recognized figure for his work on climate response, ocean protection and multinational collaboration. He was instrumental in creating one of the World’s largest and most biologically rich marine protected areas, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, which was recently declared a UN World Heritage Site. He has also been an outspoken global advocate for climate change response given the threat sea level rise poses to his nation and his people. He is also a key player in the Pacific islands Forum of 16 independent states that are taking control of their marine resources and planning a “Pacific Seascape,” of linked marine protected areas.
Following up on last year’s award to President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, Blue Frontier Campaign Executive Director David Helvarg and marine conservationist Wendy Benchley are proud to announce the 2012 Peter Benchley Award for Excellence in National Stewardship of the Ocean will go to President Anote Tong who will be joining with other winners in SF on June 1.
Named after ‘Jaws’ author and lifetime marine wildlife conservationist Peter Benchley these are the only existing awards that acknowledge outstanding achievement leading to the protection of our coasts and ocean across a broad range of categories. This year’s awards will be M.C.’ed by Sherman’s Lagoon creator, syndicated cartoonist and ocean advocate Jim Toomey. Other of this year’s winners include:
§ Science – Dr. Nancy Rabalais, head of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Dr. Rabalais has identified the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone and has worked tirelessly to reduce its upstream causes.
§ 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.
§ Exploration – Ocean in Google Earth has made discovery and exploration of the ocean world, once the realm of a handful of people, possible for anyone with access to a computer.
§ Media – Photographer Brian Skerry. His work for National Geographic, new book ‘Ocean Soul,’ and public outreach efforts offers both wonder and warning on the state of our ocean.
§ Solutions – Dr. Geraldine Knatz, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles. Dr. Knatz is leading the clean-up of the major commercial sea ports of LA and Long Beach and leading the global greening ports movement.
§ Christopher Benchley Youth Award – Ta’Kaiya Blaney is a ten-year-old first nations Canadian activist whose singing and appearances have inspired opponents of a planned oil pipeline and tanker terminal off British Columbia.
§ Hero of the Seas – Peter Douglas is the creator and long-time Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission whose work has assured public access to and protection of California’s 1,100 miles of spectacular coastline for the 37 million people of his state.
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.