NMSF Honors Three Dedicated to a Healthy Ocean with 2016 “Ocean Awards”

Bob Talbot, NMSF Board of Trustees gives the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award to Nainoa Thompson, President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Washington, DC; June 13, 2016 – A Congressional ocean policy leader, an explorer reviving ancient maritime heritage and a recreational fishing industry influencer were recipients of the National Marine Sanctuary’s 2016 “Ocean Awards.”

More than 500 people attended the 14th Ocean Awards Gala, held June 7 in Washington, DC during the annual Capitol Hill Ocean Week conference, also produced by NMSF. The Awards recognize those whose professional or personal accomplishments have made a difference in ensuring the ocean’s healthy future. This year’s honorees were:

• “Leadership Award:” Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

• “Lifetime Achievement Award:” Nainoa Thompson, President, Polynesian Voyaging Society

• “Volunteer of the Year Award:” Captain Scott Thompson, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, TX

The “Leadership Award” honors national political leaders whose commitment to ocean stewardship through advancing policies and laws has raised the public’s consciousness. Cantwell was recognized for her tireless work on behalf of ocean conservation, which benefits coastal communities, and her advocacy for Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. A Member of Congress since 2001, she has been a vocal advocate and champion of sustainable fisheries, keeping Washington’s coastal economies vibrant, expanding ocean acidification research, increasing ocean monitoring and science and oil spill prevention. As Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Cantwell has been a leader in ocean conservation and protection. She introduced the first legislation of its kind to tackle ocean acidification and enhance ocean monitoring, research, and forecasting. Previous Leadership Award recipients have included President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, and First Lady Laura Bush, and Members of Congress.

“Lifetime Achievement” awardees have made an exceptional impact on ocean science and research, conservation, exploration, engagement, or policy. An explorer, environmentalist, master navigator, educator, and advocate for ocean protection, Thompson’s work in the art of traditional Polynesian voyaging has been praised for reviving ancient marine heritage and culture. He is currently on a four-year expedition on the Hōkūleʻa, a traditional vessel, to circumnavigate the world and open up a global dialogue on the importance of ocean resources. A native Hawaiian, Thompson and his family have also had longtime involvement in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument since its inception and are passionate advocates on behalf of its expansion.

“Volunteer of the Year Award” is given for outstanding contribution in service at a national marine sanctuary; the recipient is chosen from the 14 honorees recognized each year by their individual sanctuaries. Hickman, a recreational fishing charter operator in Galveston, TX, was honored for his work toward strengthening the relationship between the recreational fishing community and the sanctuary system and his advocacy on protecting the Gulf of Mexico to policymakers. The owner of Circle H Outfitters and active in numerous recreational fishing professional organizations, he was a regular attendee at Sanctuary public meetings before joining the Council in 2013. As a volunteer, he is credited with increasing the participation of the recreational fishing charter industry in sanctuary management.

About NMSF

For everyone who loves the ocean and wants to ensure its healthy future, America’s National Marine Sanctuaries and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, working together, are delivering real solutions and measurable results. A private, non-profit organization, NMSF plays a vital role in the work of the coast-to-coast US sanctuary system through support of research and conservation, education, citizen science, outreach and community engagement. NMSF is also a respected advocate for ocean awareness and protection with policymakers nationally and worldwide.