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2013 Alaska Ocean Leadership Awards


Alaska SeaLife Center Announces Alaska Ocean Leadership Awards

Anchorage, AK – February 11, 2013 – The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) will host the fourth annual Alaska Marine Gala at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage on Saturday, February 16, 2013.  That evening, the Alaska Ocean Leadership Awards Committee will present six awards to organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to awareness and sustainability of the state’s marine resources.

Alaska’s oceans are some of the most important and productive in the world.  Our marine environments supply us with year-round recreation, research and revenue opportunities.  Without a doubt, Alaska’s marine ecosystems are one of the most important resources in our state, our nation and the world.  Recognizing the vital importance of our oceans, these awards were created to honor the individuals and organizations that strive to understand them and are dedicated to sustaining them.

The following are this year’s award winners:

Bonita Nelson will receive the Ocean Literacy Award.  Bonita is a scientist for NOAA Fisheries in Juneau, Alaska. For the past 20 years she has managed outreach activities including K-12 student programs, middle-school science camps, college internships and NOAA’s Teacher in the Lab program, among others. She has served as mentor and executive committee member for the Southeast Alaska Regional Science Fair for over 10 years. She continues to find new ways to connect NOAA’s research to Alaska’s students.

Thomas Litwin, Ph.D. and Lawrence Hott will receive the Ocean Media Award for excellence in journalism that has raised public awareness of Alaska’s oceans.  This award is sponsored by the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.  In 2001, these gentlemen organized and documented a historic expedition to retrace the voyage of the 1899 Harriman Expedition from Seattle to Siberia.  The story of this huge undertaking was vividly told in a PBS documentary, book, dynamic website and numerous other materials.  Through their adventure, the story of climate change in the Arctic and Bering Sea emerges.

Drs. Katrin Iken, Brenda Konar, Russ Hopcroft and Bodil Bluhm, faculty of the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, will share the Marine Research Award, sponsored by Dr. Clarence Pautzke and his wife, Dr. Maureen McCrae.  This dynamic group of Arctic scientists has spent the past 10 years researching and reporting on their findings related to Arctic biodiversity. Among them, their work has been published in 84 peer-reviewed publications since 2009.  Their work has greatly contributed to the international recognition of UAF, as well as provided crucial information to assess the impacts of environmental changes in Alaskan waters.

Holland America Line will be recognized with the Ocean Stewardship and Sustainability Award, sponsored by Mr. Jason Brune.  Holland America Line has been a forerunner in establishing practices to both protect and sustain the waters in which they sail.  Of the 13 ships in the Holland America Line fleet, seven will sail within Alaskan waters during 2013. They have achieved measurable objectives in reducing emissions while promoting sustainability in Alaskan waters. The company has also initiated partnerships in Southeast Alaska to involve their guests in the collection and recording of research data maintained by Alaska Sea Grant’s Marine Advisory Program.

Ahmaogak Sweeney will be recognized in a new category this year, the Ocean Youth Award, sponsored by Mr. Dale Hoffman.  An Alaskan resident, Ahmaogak portrayed a young boy in the 2012 film, Big Miracle. He acted as an advocate for gray whales in the film, created awareness of their presence in the Arctic and ultimately was part of a community that freed the whales from the ice.

Clement V. Tillion will receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.  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 25 years or more.  For almost 50 years, Clem Tillion has been a leader in the sustainable, responsible management of Alaska’s commercial fisheries. Clem served as “fish czar” under Governors Egan, Hammond and Hickel. Under Governor Egan, he was an architect of the “Limited Entry” system of licensing salmon fishermen. That system survives to this day, and robustly protects the interests of Alaskans, while ensuring the health of the fish stocks. He carried that success into his contributions to federal fisheries management, with the passing of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and the establishment of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Clem served on the Council for ten years, including five years as chairman. Responsible fisheries management built on the foundation laid by Clem, Elmer Rasmuson and Jim Branson has become the standard for fisheries management nationwide.  Clem Tillion’s greatest contribution to Alaska’s fisheries is that he always made the biological health of the resource his first priority. His vision, energy, and strength of personality, throughout his decades of service, have ensured that Alaska’s abundant fisheries resources have been, and will continue to be, responsibly managed.

“The Alaska Ocean Leadership Awards provide an opportunity to recognize outstanding contributions to the sustainability of Alaska’s greatest resource—her oceans,” said Tara Riemer Jones, ASLC President and CEO.  The Alaska SeaLife Center is most appreciative of the support provided by the sponsors of these awards and thanks the Awards Committee, Arliss Sturgulewski (Chair), Jason Brune, Lisa Busch, Dr. Michael Castellini, David Christie, Dr. Ian Dutton, Dale Hoffman and Dr. Douglas Woodby for their assistance in selecting the awardees.  Nominations for the 2014 awards will open in late 2013.

The Alaska SeaLife Center is a private non-profit research institution and visitor attraction which generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems.  The Alaska SeaLife Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For more information visit www.alaskasealife.org


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