ANCHORAGE, Alaska – February 5, 2014 – The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) is proud to announce the 2014 Alaska Ocean Leadership Awards. These awards are given annually to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the awareness and sustainability of the state’s marine resources.
Following are this year’s award winners:
The prestigious Walter J. and Ermalee Hickel Lifetime Achievement Award will be posthumously awarded to Stan Stephens, who passed away on September 21, 2013. The late Governor Walter J. Hickel and his wife Ermalee endowed this award for 10 years to recognize an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the management of Alaska’s coastal and ocean resources over a period of 20 years or more. Stan Stephens started offering wildlife and glacier charters into Prince William Sound from Valdez in 1971. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989, Stan’s was the first vessel to arrive at the scene. The events during the following days and weeks reordered his priorities and changed the course of his life. Stan spent the remainder of his life as an activist who will long be remembered for bringing citizens, regulatory agencies and the oil industry together. As a founding member of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, he endeavored to ensure clean water and air at the Valdez Marine Terminal, fighting for Best Available Technologies to be used in the Ballast Water Treatment System and the Vapor Recovery System. He was also instrumental in getting tractor tugs as escort vessels between the terminal and the Gulf of Alaska. Stan became known as the “Keeper of the Sound” because his work was centered on Prince William Sound, yet the impact of his work continues to be felt across the state and around the globe. Award to be presented at the Alaska Marine Gala.
The Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center (PCCRC) will receive the Stewardship & Sustainability Award. This award is sponsored by Jason Brune, and honors an industry leader that demonstrates the highest commitment to sustainability of ocean resources. The PCCRC at the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences of the University of Alaska Fairbanks focuses on North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea research and education, with emphasis on the commercial fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. Over 13 million dollars have been contributed to improve the knowledge of Alaska’s oceans and to anticipate and meet the needs of the present and future. Funding for the PCCRC is provided by members of the Pollock Conservation Cooperative, part of the At-sea Processors Association. Award to be presented at the Alaska Marine Gala.
The Pribilof Student Marine Research Student Team will receive the Ocean Youth Award, which is sponsored by Dale Hoffman. The award honors an individual or team of Alaskan youth ages 12-19 who have displayed a dedication to promoting the understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s oceans. This team of young scientists has spent the last five summers involved in monitoring, mapping and documenting marine species indigenous to the marine ecosystems of the Bering Sea and Pribilof Islands. Their work has resulted in discoveries about rare species and contributed to sustainable management of blue crab stocks. Award to be presented at the Alaska Marine Gala.
Laurie “Poppy” Benson received the Marine Science Outreach Award. This award is given to a person, team or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to ocean literacy via formal or informal education, media or other communications. It is co-sponsored by the University of Alaska, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS). Over the course of a 38-year career with three federal agencies, the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land management, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), “Poppy” has distinguished herself as a science outreach professional. She developed the Science Stewardship Camp Program at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, assisted with the design of the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer, and created a FWS outreach program for rangers on the Alaska Marine Highway System Ferries. Award presented at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in January.
Tom Weingartner, Ph.D. received the Marine Research Award, sponsored by Drs. Clarence Pautzke and Maureen McCrea. This honor is given to a scientist, team of scientists or an institution that is acknowledged by peers to have made an original breakthrough contribution to any field of scientific knowledge about Alaska’s oceans. Dr. Weingartner is the premier physical oceanographer in the state of Alaska. The ocean science community relies on his expertise and insights of ocean circulation and physical oceanography of Alaska’s large marine ecosystems, including the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and the Arctic. His research includes studying temperature and salinity variability in Resurrection Bay, heat and salt fluxes through the Bering Strait, and water flow and mixing during sea ice formation on the northern Bering Sea shelf. Award presented at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in January.
The Alaska SeaLife Center appreciates the support provided by the sponsors of these awards and thanks the Awards Committee members (Arliss Sturgulewski, Jason Brune, Dale Hoffman, Dr. Mike Castellini, Dr. Ian Dutton, Lisa Busch, Molly McCammon, Denby Lloyd, and Robin Dublin), for their assistance in selecting the awardees.