Brian and Sandy Stewart, the parents of acclaimed filmmaker and internationally renowned activist Rob Stewart were at the Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise® initiative, last night to accept the Ocean Award for Conservation and Research Communication, in recognition of Rob’s career of important contributions in media, journalism, and digital communications related to the ocean.

Dr. Peter Ross with Brian and Sandy Stewart

“We are so grateful to receive this important award on behalf of Rob and his life’s work to save sharks and the oceans,” said Brian and Sandy Stewart.  “We know Rob would have been thrilled. Through his films, Sharkwater, Revolution and Sharkwater Extinction, Rob worked tirelessly to bring awareness of the need for conservation and inspired people to imagine a world lived in harmony with nature. As parents, we are so very proud of all Rob accomplished – we know he changed the world; but we also know that there is still much to be done. Rob’s work will continue through the Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation and we accept this award committed to continuing his mission to protect this planet for generations to come.”

Stewart made history with his 2006 documentary Sharkwater, which brought the devastating issue of shark finning to the world stage. The film had the largest opening weekend of any Canadian documentary, and won over 70 awards at prestigious film festivals around the world. Today, over 90 countries have banned shark finning, and a shark research group credits him with saving 1/3 of the world’s sharks. He died tragically in 2017 while filming Sharkwater Extinction, his third documentary and the follow-up to Sharkwater.

“Rob changed the course of history for sharks around the world; his contributions were profound and immeasurable. The Ocean Award for Conservation and Research Communication serves to honour the memory of someone who did so much on behalf of the world’s oceans,” said Dr. Peter Ross, vice-president of Research at Ocean Wise.

The 24th annual Ocean Awards celebrated those at the forefront of marine science and conservation. Recipients are honoured for their invaluable contributions to understanding, conserving, and communicating the diverse and irreplaceable aquatic ecosystems of western Canada and the species that inhabit them.

Other award recipients at Monday night’s Ocean Awards ceremony included:

Murray A. Newman Research Award, for highly significant recent work and/or an entire career of important, field-leading contributions in ocean research, to Professor Rashid Sumaila

Professor Rashid Sumaila

Professor Rashid Sumaila is the Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada. He specializes in bioeconomics, marine ecosystem valuation and the analysis of global issues such as fisheries subsidies, IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing and the economics of high seas and deep seas fisheries. His pioneering research challenges the core tenets of traditional economics, prompting a rethink of the basic objectives of society with regards to oceans and fisheries. His ‘fish bank’ concept for the high seas provides a concept that has the potential to significantly advance ocean conservation on a global scale.

Murray A. Newman Conservation Award for highly significant recent work and/or an entire career of important, field-leading contributions in ocean conservation, to Dr. Chris Darimont.

Dr. Peter Ross with Dr. Chris Darimont

Recognized as one of the top large carnivore scientists in Canada and internationally, Dr. Chris Darimont is the Science Director for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and holds the Raincoast Chair in Applied Conservation Science at the University of Victoria. Trained broadly, Chris and his research team use ecological, evolutionary, and social sciences approaches to confront real-world conservation problems and opportunities. Collectively, his body of work is making significant contributions to coastal research, and the growing body of knowledge on the interface between species and habitats that bridge land and sea.

Conservation Leadership in Support of Corporate Responsibility, to Vancouver Fraser Port Authority for its Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

The ECHO Program is a Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led collaborative initiative with a goal of better understanding and managing the cumulative effects of shipping activities on at-risk whales throughout the southern coast of British Columbia. Since the program began in 2014, this internationally recognized team has advanced scientific studies, educational initiatives and other projects that meet the long-term goal of the program to help develop voluntary mitigation measures that will lead to a reduction in threats to whales from shipping activities.

Michael A. Bigg Award, for highly significant student research advancing knowledge related to the oceans, to Erin Rechsteiner.

Dr. Peter Ross with Erin Rechsteiner

Called an extraordinarily committed and accomplished PhD student by her professors, Erin Rechsteiner’s research on sea otters, their prey, and relationship to humans is breaking new ground for its originality, breadth, and striking findings. Capitalizing on 30 years of census information from the Central Coast and a natural experimental context of sea otter sites that range from 1-30 years of occupation time, Erin is asking questions about sea otter foraging that were not before possible.

“These are troubling times for our oceans around the world ­– they face anthropogenic threats, from climate change and pollution, to overfishing and development,” said Ross. “Taking time to recognize some of the exceptional people who work in the service of our oceans provides an important opportunity to advance the cause of conservation.”

Ocean Wise launched on World Ocean’s Day 2017 as a global ocean conservation organization focused on protecting and restoring our world’s oceans. Building on the roots of the Vancouver Aquarium, which started as a community-based not-for-profit organization, Ocean Wise aims to inspire people in every corner of the planet to participate in creating healthy oceans.

Ocean Wise®
Ocean Wise is a not-for-profit organization whose vision is a world in which oceans are healthy and flourishing. Explore with us at

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