6th Annual Peter Benchley Ocean Awards Celebration

On May 15th we honored eight heroes in national stewardship, science, policy, media, grassroots activism and the promise of youth to offer us solutions and hope. The Peter Benchley Ocean Awards are the world’s preeminent ocean awards and are unique in acknowledging outstanding achievement across many sectors of society leading to the protection of our ocean, coasts and the communities that depend on them. The awards celebrate Peter's legacy as someone who spent more than 40 years educating the public and expanding awareness of the importance of protecting sharks and ocean ecosystems.

In honoring President Macky Sall of Senegal this year we are honoring a third national leader following President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica and President Anote Tong of Kiribati. These ocean heroes have come from Latin America, Oceana and Africa and reflect both a great challenge and a great hope.

The challenge is the devastating impacts of overfishing for the global seafood market, oil, plastic, chemical and nutrient pollution, loss of habitat to coastal sprawl and the global impacts of climate change. The hope is that nations like Costa Rica, Kiribati and Senegal in taking actions to restore and protect their seas can also inspire larger nations such as China, India, Brazil and the United States to enact strong policies and promote global initiatives for the betterment of our last great commons and blue frontier.

Certainly saving our seas and the people who depend on them (all of us) will require the imagination and boldness that we recognize in this year's Benchley winners. It will take the calculated risk of the explorer, the dedicated focus of the scientist, the practical statecraft of the policymaker, the communicative skills of the media worker, the impassioned idealism of youth and the inspirational leadership of both presidents and grassroots activists.