Ocean Awards 2020 Winners

May 04, 2020


It’s the Ocean Awards winners week. Returning for a fifth year, the awards honour and celebrate people and organisations who work tirelessly to help address the crisis in our oceans.

We are delighted to be announcing a new winner each day this week, brought to you by Blue Marine Foundation and BOAT International in association with Fishmongers’ Hall. This year, each winner will receive a bespoke wave-shaped award made from crystal, designed and created by Crystal Caviar.


Science Award

Winner: Dr Rainer Froese

Listen to the podcast where we delve deeper in conversation with this year’s extraordinary winner: 
Read an interview with Dr Rainer Froese by Charles Clover, revealing how Covid-19 could help to end overfishing in Europe’s seas forever.

Known for helping create the wildly successful online fish encyclopaedia, FishBase, Dr Rainer Froese is a German fisheries scientist and Senior Scientist for the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research. From 2015 to 2019, Dr Froese led the development of three computer-intensive methods and software for assessing the status of data-poor fisheries. Representing a revolution in fisheries science, these new methods allow fisheries to be assessed in a straightforward, yet rigorous, way.

Dr Froese’s most recent paper presented the third analysis method, known as Abundance Maximum Sustainable Yield (AMSY). This paper provided the first-ever assessments for 23 fish stocks and also found that 24 of the 38 stocks analysed were overfished. Dr Froese’s work has proved instrumental in fisheries assessments with his CMSY method having been applied to 397 European stocks and being the largest assessment ever of Mediterranean stocks. It has also been applied to 1,300 stocks globally, making it the first ever global assessment at this scale.

Dr Rainer Froese accepting the Science Award.


Visionary Award

Winner: Andrew Sharpless

Since joining Oceana in 2003, Andrew’s leadership has seen the company grow to be the largest international conservation organisation fully dedicated to protecting the oceans, including protecting more than 4.5 million square miles of habitat. The company has won 225 significant international policy victories to protect and restore the oceans, with campaigns underway in Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Some of the most notable policy victories achieved under Andrew’s guidance include the prohibition of longline fishing on the west coast and persuading the Mexican government to provide public access to vessel tracking data for commercial fishing fleet. Alongside this, policies have also resulted in Canada modernising its Fisheries Act to become the first G20 country to ban the export of shark fins, as well as requiring rebuilding plans for depleted fish population, and New York and Canada introducing restrictions on the production and dumping of offshore oil and gas in their waters. Lastly, Canada introduced a marine protected area for one of their most diverse and productive zones, and Spain created the second largest marine protected area in the Mediterranean. Alongside this, Andrew published, The Perfect Protein, in 2013, looking at sustainable seafood and the importance of wild fish stocks.

Andrew Sharpless, CEO of Oceana, accepting the Visionary Award.

Public Awareness Award

Winner: Nekton

UK-based company, Nekton’s mission to accelerate the exploration and protection of the ocean. With the aim of galvanising 30 per cent protection of the least researched, least protected and most at-risk ocean on the planet by 2030, Nekton created a series of missions across the Indian Ocean named ‘First Descent’. The mission began in Seychelles in 2019 and will conclude with a State of the Indian Ocean summit in October 2022.

Thenphimission promoted the Seychelles as a global beacon for ocean conservation, with the country making broadcast history with the world’s first live underwater documentary series and the first subsea newscast watched by 110 million people in 127 countries. In addition to this, the series also enabled Nekton to create a new baseline of data on marine life and ocean health. In collaboration with over 50 international scientists, the new data resulted in 21 research technologies deployed, 26 million square meters of seabed mapped, and over 1,200 biological samples, many of which were new to science.

Oliver Steed’s, Chief Executive and Mission Director of Nekton, acceptance speech on behalf of Nekton and more than 50 partners involved in their mission.

Public Awareness Award runner up: Balu Blue Foundation

For more information about the Public Awareness Award winner and runner up click here.

Local Hero Award

Winner: Tavahiroa Elementary School

Tavahiroa Elementary School is located in Anaa Atoll, within the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. The beautiful island has faced a variety of problems including a lack of jobs, most families relying on subsistence fishing for food security, and education on the island. In 2015 charity The Island Initiative created the Anaa Atoll Project to help create a small-scale tourism venture of catching and releasing kioko fly fishing.

The Tavahiroa Elementary School partnered with The Island Initiativeto impose a Rahui (a temporary closed season) during the kiokio spawning migration, as well as creating a two-kilometre fish migration zone that kiokio could use during their spawning migration, known as the ‘Marine Educational Area.’ These projects will help to preserve the lagoon’s biodiversity, encourage ecotourism opportunities and protect food security for the community and for future generations. In 2019, the first ever Rahui for kiokio was approved and inaugurated, making it the first Rahui declared in over 150 years. This has meant that the kiokio season will be closed for three years from March to May.

Charles Watson’s, Chairman of The Island Initiative, acceptance speech on behalf of the school children of Tavahiroa Elementary School.

Local Hero Award runner ups: Swietenia Puspa Lestari, who has been helping rid Indonesian waters of plastic, rescuer of Ghanian turtles Eric Quayson and Veta Wade, who has been educating Caribbean children on marine life.

For more information about the Local Hero Award winner and runner ups click here.

Innovation Award

Winner: Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean (MiCO System)

With ocean basin-scale migrations of sea turtles, marine mammals, seabirds and fish exposing them to multiple stressors and governance regimes, it is important to understand how they use the oceans. Despite the amount of data, the delivery of critical ecological knowledge is a conversation tragedy, with these buried in scientific literature. The Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean System(MiCO) aims to solve this problem through moving away from aggregating raw data, towards data in a useable format.

The MiCO system was launched at the United Nations during a side event for the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ). The prototype included a set of standardised area-use models based on nearly 100,000 data points from 382 animals across seven species that interact with 55 countries. The MiCO system was also referenced as a vital tool in the popular paper, ‘Proceedings of The Royal Society B,’ written by 71 highly experienced authors.

Dr Daniel Dunn’s acceptance speech on behalf of more than 50 organisations involved in MiCO System.

Innovation Award Runner up: Pelagic Data Systems (PDS)

For more information about the Innovation Award winner and runner up click here.


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