Often referred to as the “Academy Awards for the ocean,” 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 oceans, coasts and the communities that depend on them.
Dr. Sumaila is the recipient in the 2017 “Excellence in Science” category, which is given to an individual who “has advanced the cause of understanding ocean processes, marine ecology and conservation biology.”
Of Dr. Sumaila’s selection, the Benchley Awards committee wrote: “Dr. Sumaila is Professor and Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at the University of British Columbia. He received his Ph.D. from Bergen University, Norway, and holds a B.Sc. with honors from Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria. Dr. Sumaila is deeply interested in how economics, through integration with ecology and other disciplines, can be used to help ensure that ocean resources are sustainably managed for the benefit of both current and future generations. His key recent contributions include 1) applying game theory to fisheries; 2) rethinking the nature of the discount rates applied in marine resource valuations, and formulating a highly original alternative, i.e., “intergeneration discount rates”; 3) understanding the nature, amounts and effects of government subsidies on global fisheries; 4) estimating the multiple benefits that would be obtained globally by rebuilding fish stocks and setting up marine reserves, including conceiving of the High Seas as a large marine reserve. His work is highly regarded by policy makers at the highest levels, resulting in invitations to give talks at the United Nations, the White House, the U.S. Congress, the European Parliament, the African Union, the British House of Lords, and the Canadian Parliament.”
To date Benchley Award winners have included five Heads of State, U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense, senators, marine scientists, journalists, explorers, youth leaders, and citizen activists.
Co-founded by ocean conservation and policy advocate Wendy Benchley and author and Blue Frontier Executive Director David Helvarg, the awards are named in honor of Peter Benchley (the author of Jaws) who worked for 40 years educating the public on shark and ocean conservation issues through his numerous books, films, documentary programs, articles for National Geographic, and public appearances.
Dr. Sumaila will receive his award at a gala ceremony being held on May 11th in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and Sant Ocean Hall.