The Boat International and Blue Marine Foundation Ocean Awards is now in its fourth year and celebrates the promotion of healthy marine environments through the work of individuals and organisations across the world. The 2019 edition saw entries fly in from across the globe, and from these the judges have selected some of the most outstanding from a host of noteworthy nominees.
The Local Hero Award – Zoona Naseem
Zoona Naseem became a PADI course director amongst the idyllic Maldives luxury yacht charter grounds in 2018 and was the first woman in the archipelago to qualify as a PADI Instructor. She has so far logged over 12,000 hours of diving and last year, she also received the Maldivian president’s National Award of Recognition in the area of Diving (Recreational Scuba Diving).
In her campaign for ocean conservation, she has also promoted diving for local women, who make up 400 or the 11,000 people she has dived with. These women can experience for themselves the beautiful sharks and eagle rays in the waters surrounding their homes and pass on the importance of marine conservation to their children.
She was also integral to the Farukoe (meaning ‘reef child’) government scheme to ensure that every Maldivian child gets to at least snorkel amongst the coral reefs, to create a generation aware of preserving their fragile environment.
Science Award – David Kroodsma
Independent NGO Global Fishing Watch has a mission to advance ocean stewardship and sustainability through global monitoring of commercial fishing. Originally set up by ocean conservation organisation Oceana along with satellite technology company SkyTruth and Google, David Kroodsma is its director of research as the organisation has tracked over 70,000 large industrial fishing vessels between 2012 and 2016 and processed over 22 billion automatic identification system messages.
The results show that industrial fishing is conducted in 55% of the world’s oceans and combined their distance travelled equalled 600 trips to the moon and back.
Innovation Award – Dr. Anne Kapuscinski & Silent Yachts
For creating positive long-term marine impact, two entries were recognised this year:
As aquaculture becomes the world’s fastest-growing food sector, it becomes ever-more important to understand the ecosystem and implement sustainable practices. Dr. Anne Kapuscinski is director of the Coastal Science and Policy Program as well as professor of environmental studies at UCSC, and she and her team focus on the development of microalgae-based feeds designed to support fish growth and omega-3 without harming aquatic ecosystems.
Silent Yachts have produced the SILENT 64 luxury yacht, a 19.4m/solar-hybrid catamaran designed for cruising the world’s oceans. The luxury catamaran is the result of 15 years’ worth of research and is a significant achievement towards creating a totally emission-free yacht for the modern era.
Visionary Award – Lewis Pugh
British environmental campaigner Lewis Pugh is a former maritime lawyer and UN Patron of the Oceans since 2013. In August 2018 he completed a 49-day swim along the English Channel that took him from Land’s End to Dover – a journey of 527 kilometres – to commence a global campaign to raise awareness of plastic pollution and win protection for 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. He also drew attention to the fact that, of the 750,000 km2 surrounding the UK, only 7 km2 is fully protected from exploitation.
Public Awareness Award – The Ocean Race
In recognition of the individual or group that has done the most that year to advance public understanding of marine conservation issues, this year the award goes to the 2017-18 triennial round-the-world yacht race, which is sponsored by Volvo and covers a distance of 45,000 nautical miles.
The teams, consisting of between seven and 11 crew, signed up to the United Nations’ #CleanSeas pledge and further championed the cause of sustainability by minimising each team’s footprint by discouraging single-use plastics on board, with sponsors and the 94,200 corporate guests at the Race Villages. As a result, 400,000 plastic bottles were saved from circulation and compostable dishes and cutlery.
The race vessels also raised global awareness of plastic pollution and ocean health by effectively becoming research vessels, taking water samples and meteorological data in regions that are usually inaccessible to scientists.
Judges’ Special Award – Alliance for the Conservation of Biodiversity, Culture and Territory
Following the partnership of five institutions – the World Wildlife Fund, US-based Wildlife Conservation Society, real-estate conglomerate Grupo Argos, the Mario Santo Domingo Foundation and the Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia as organiser – 13.31% of Colombia’s coastlines are now protected.
More than 4 million hectares have been declared Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), with the formation of two new MPA and extensive expansion of a current National Natural Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.