Ocean Awards take place on June 8, 2020 (World Oceans Day)

Ocean Wise Conservation Association is pleased to recognize the winners of the 25th annual Ocean Awards, including keynote speaker Dr. David Suzuki, in a virtual event taking place on World Oceans Day – June 8, 2020.

The annual Ocean Awards, presented by Ocean Wise Research Institute, honour individuals and organizations for their highly significant contributions to ocean conservation through research, communications and thought leadership.

The Ocean Awards are normally presented as part of a gala dinner at the Vancouver Aquarium. However, the physical distancing requirements resulting from COVID-19 compelled Ocean Wise to convert to a new online format, via video conference. All are invited to be part of the Ocean Awards online and to hear Dr. David Suzuki speak. For registration details, go to https://ocean.org/awards.

“The time is right for a sea-change in the way in which we as humans live, work and play,” said Lasse Gustavsson, president and CEO of Ocean Wise Conservation Association. “We at Ocean Wise are proud of those honoured at this year’s Ocean Awards, and look forward to more innovation, creativity and solution-oriented energy as we tackle these pressing ocean problems.”

Dr. David Suzuki, winner of this year’s prestigious North Medal, will be giving a 20-minute talk as part of the online event. The North Medal is bestowed by Ocean Wise Research Institute upon individuals whose lifelong commitment to ocean conservation and conservation leadership provides an example to all. The award is named in honour of Rudy North, a passionate devotee of ocean science and conservation.

“Our livelihoods and well-being are inextricably linked to the ocean,” said Dr. David Suzuki, award-winning geneticist, broadcaster, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation and winner of this year’s North Medal. “Protecting it is not just our responsibility – it’s a renewal of our link to our ancestors and a contribution to generations yet to come. Underneath this seemingly bleak mass of water, I see a whole kingdom teeming with life. It’s our everlasting source of food and wonder, and our stronghold against climate change. This award is an honour, yet the work to restore the ocean is far from done. If the current COVID-19 and climate crises have shown us anything, it’s that we need to fix our relationship with nature – and there’s perhaps no better place to start than with the ocean.”

“I can think of no other Canadian who is more worthy of our recognition and thanks when it comes to the environment than Dr. Suzuki” said Dr. Peter Ross, vice president of Ocean Wise Conservation Association and head of the Ocean Wise Research Institute. “David Suzuki’s commitment to a more sustainable future is remarkable and we are honoured to award him this year’s North Medal.” 

Established in 1995 as a tribute to the Vancouver Aquarium’s founding director, Dr. Murray A. Newman, the Ocean Awards celebrate those at the forefront of ocean sciences and conservation, and their work in ocean research, education, action, leadership and philanthropy.

25th Annual Ocean Award Winners

  • The Murray A. Newman Award for Significant Achievement in Aquatic Research is awarded to Dr. Philippe Tortell of UBC for his contributions to ocean climate and biogeochemical research, and his commitment to public engagement on the urgent topic of climate change. 
  • The Murray A. Newman Award for Significant Achievement in Aquatic Conservation is awarded to Danielle Shaw for her dedicated contributions to marine protected areas, integration frameworks reflecting Indigenous Ways of Knowing, sustainable policy and advocacy contributions, and leadership of the Wuikinuxv Nation.
  • The Conservation and Research Communication Award goes to Dr. Alejandro Frid for his communications using a blend of western science and indigenous knowledge in the pursuit a more sustainable world, as exemplified by his latest book, Changing Tides: An Ecologists Journey to Make Peace with the Anthropocene.
  • The Award for Conservation Technology is given to Dr. Tom Dakin for his expert work on technological innovations in pursuit of a better understanding of underwater noise – a topic of current concern at the highest levels of government and shipping sectors around the world.
  • The Michael A. Bigg Award for Student Research goes to Dr. Brett Howard (Simon Fraser University) for her thesis research on the ecological and economic impacts of invasive species in the coastal waters of British Columbia, and her work on planning for and mitigating future invasions.
  • The Conservation Leadership Award in Support of Social Responsibility goes to the Coast Guardian Watchmen, reflecting the profoundly important leadership role this team has played as stewards of natural and cultural resources in the ocean.
  • The North Medal for Highly Significant Contribution to Research and Conservation is awarded to Dr. David Suzuki. This award recognizes Dr. Suzuki’s incalculable contribution to conservation leadership in Canada and internationally. This award is named in honour of Rudy North and his lifelong passion for the ocean and dedication to a more sustainable future.

The Ocean Awards livestream is just one of many activities happening at Ocean Wise during the month of June to spur conversation and learning about ocean health. Visit our World Oceans Day page for more information.

25th Annual Ocean Awards
Featuring Dr. David Suzuki, winner of the North Medal
Presented virtually on June 8, 2020 (World Oceans Day)
3pm-4pm Pacific Time
For more information, and to register, go to:
No cost to attend. All are welcome.

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