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Meet the 10 Ocean Awards judges

Our panel of esteemed judges for  The Ocean Awards includes:

  1. Charles Clover (chairman)
  2. Sir Charles Dunstone
  3. Princess Zahra Aga Kahn
  4. Alex Rogers
  5. Ben Goldsmith 
  6. Charlie Birkett 
  7. George Duffield
  8. Lilly Barclay
  9. Peter Lürssen
  10. Sacha Bonsor 

Please scroll down to see a biography of all our judges.

Chairman of the Judges

Charles Clover, Executive Chairman of Blue Marine Foundation

In 2004, Charles Clover’s book The End of the Line was published. Then the environment editor ofThe Daily Telegraph, now a columnist for The Sunday Times, Clover was inspired to write it, he says, by many things, not least a paper by the freshwater fisheries expert Dr David Solomon on dwindling fish stocks in the River Wye. Dr Solomon, says Clover, “reckoned it had been overfished by recreational fishermen. I thought: ‘Well, if you can overfish a river with a fly or a prawn on a hook, then what is happening to the sea?’ So I began to look into it and found more and more cause for alarm.”

The success of Charles Clover's book prompted a film of the same name. Latterly dubbed “An Inconvenient Truth for the oceans” by The Economist and winner in 2011 of the inaugural Puma Creative Impact Award for its success in changing consumer and business behaviour, the film had one of its first screenings at the 2009 Sundance Festival in Utah, the best regarded showcase for independent productions. 

It was there that Clover discussed his next step with (fellow judges of the Ocean Awards) George Duffield and Chris Gorell Barnes, producer and executive producer respectively of the film. “We sat down and said: ‘What are we going to do now?’ And they said: ‘We’re going to save the sea.’” 

The result was Blue Marine Foundation, a charity that funds private-sector solutions for the sea and a global network of marine reserves, of which Clover is executive chairman and with which Boat International has created the Ocean Awards.

Sir Charles Dunstone

As a child growing up in Essex, Sir Charles Dunstone used to go on holiday to the Norfolk coast. “When the tide was out, you went to the beach,” he remembers. “And when the tide was in, you went sailing.” 

Perhaps it was inevitable then that, having set up Carphone Warehouse with £6,000 of his savings in 1989, floating it on the London Stock Exchange in 2000, at £1.7 billion, he would indulge his passion for the water with a succession of boats. 

Some have been for racing, notably 23 metre Enigma, which won the Rolex Fastnet Race in 2003, and others for cruising. Now chairman of Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk,  Sir Charles has recently restored the 65 metre 1938 classic motor yacht Shemara.

An active ambassador for Blue Marine Foundation, Sir Charles is also chairman of Royal Museums Greenwich (which includes the National Maritime Museum) and Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing. He was knighted in 2012 for services to the telecommunications industry and charity.

Princess Zahra Aga Khan

“As a family we have always spent a lot of time on or near the sea, and it has always been the great love of my life,” says Princess Zahra Aga Khan. “I believe that it’s too late to reverse the molecular-level pollution in all the seas and oceans of our planet, but we can do a great deal to improve human behaviour, to reduce pollution and overfishing, and therefore to improve the habitat of ocean flora and fauna around the world.” Hence her commitment to “raising awareness about these crucial issues”.

Educated at Harvard and based in Geneva, where she was born, Princess Zahra works for her father, His Highness the Aga Khan, managing the health and education services of the Aga Khan Development Network, which oversees not-for-profit health and education programmes and institutions in 12 countries. But she spends what leisure time she has by, on, or better yet in the sea (she is president of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Sardinia). 

“I started diving aged 15 and became a divemaster in 1991,” she says. “I have witnessed first-hand the degradation of the ocean environment around the world, with ever increasing visible and invisible pollution, dwindling fish populations, climate-affected reefs and man-made population swings.” 

Professor Alex David Rogers, Professor of Conservation Biology at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

Alex is a marine ecologist who is interested in how biodiversity is distributed in the ocean, especially in the deep sea and on tropical coral reefs. He is also interested in human impacts on the ocean and how to manage human activities to mitigate or reduce degradation of marine ecosystems. 

His work has taken him to the Indian and Southern Oceans and to the Caribbean investigating coral reef ecosystems, both in shallow water and the deep sea, seamounts and deep-sea hydrothermal vents. 

Alex has worked with governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations in publicising human impacts, especially those from deep-sea fishing and climate change, and on the development of policy solutions to such problems. He is Scientific Director of the International Programme on the State of the Ocean and Chief Scientist of the Nekton Foundation.

Ben Goldsmith

Ben Goldsmith has spent the last decade managing investment funds focused a broad range of green industries, including renewable energy, resource efficiency, water, waste and electric transportation. In this vein, Ben is CEO of Menhaden Capital, a new green-focused London-listed investment trust. 

Ben named this new venture after a fish. Brevoortia tyrannus, or menhaden, is a member of the herring family that swims in large schools stratified by size and age, feeding on plankton, thereby, performing a hugely important filtration role, cleaning the ocean as it eats. The Menhaden is a keystone species, eaten by almost all ocean predators - a single dolphin can reportedly get through 20 pounds of menhaden a day. The Menhaden is slowly recovering having been nearly obliterated during the twentieth century. Ocean conservation is a subject close to Ben's heart. 

Ben chairs the Goldsmith family's JMG Foundation, the Conservative Environment Network and is a founder of the U.K. Environmental Funders’ Network.

Charlie Birkett, Co-Founder & CEO of Y.CO

Charlie Birkett is Co-Founder, with Gary Wright, of  Y.CO, the challenger brand of the global superyacht industry. Built on a foundation of specialist knowledge, onboard experience and a passion for the ocean, Y.CO enables Owners and charter Clients to experience yachting at the highest possible level.

Y.CO is a passionate supporter of BLUE and a proud member of the Blue Marine Yacht Club. Y.CO has also established oceans.eleven, a committee of leading Captains in the Y.CO fleet that works to action improvements in the industry, including in ocean conservation.

“As an industry, we need to take ocean conservation much more seriously than we do,” says Charlie. “I want my kids to grow up sailing and having fun on the water as I did. We can and should do more. At Y.CO, we encourage all our team to contribute to ocean conservation, and we feel passionately that crew should educate guests about the cause. There is nothing better than spending time on the water having fun, but we need to look after it too.”

Y.CO is proud to be participating in The Ocean Awards.

George Duffield

“I’d been making a film for the BBC, where we’d seen whales and sharks and orcas and all these incredible marine animals, and I’d just completely fallen in love with the sea, when the director Rupert Murray gave me a copy of Charles Clover's book, The End of the Line, about the impact of overfishing. I knew that I had to make the film,” says award-winning wildlife photographer and environmentalist George Duffield, founder and chairman of the London-based production company Cosmic Picture. 

The resulting film is Duffield’s proudest achievement to date and one that left a legacy – he went on to co-found Blue Marine Foundation. “By really focusing on marine reserves, which are, I think, self-evidently the solution to declining fish stocks, we are making a difference,” he says. “Clearly you need more areas that are safe for fish. It’s not rocket science. This is the world’s largest solvable problem; the biggest thing we can fix without really changing society.”

Lilly Barclay

Born of the North Sea, Lilly’s childhood was spent in Jutland, Denmark, sailing Optimists. This set up her positive outlook on life but also made her acutely aware of the magnificence of our ocean. 

Conservation of the seas is her biggest passion and she collaborates with organisations and foundations to stop the growing problem of plastic in our oceans.

A keen traveller and sailor, Lilly is the co-Founder of Being Human, transforming people’s lives through the power of nature in Northern Sweden.

Peter Lürssen

Back in 1997, when the 96 metre Limitless was launched, she became the first superyacht to run on diesel-electric engines, evidence that Lürssen, which built her from designs by Jon Bannenberg, has had a long-standing commitment to and interest in environmental challenges and remains at the forefront of technology, methods of production and quality. 

Two decades on and these same issues are still close to the heart of the company’s CEO, Peter Lürssen, the great-grandson of Friedrich Lürssen, who founded the famous German shipyard in 1875. Having studied naval architecture and economic engineering at the University of Kiel, Peter went to Japan, where he worked as a construction supervisor for a Norwegian shipping company at various shipyards, after which he went to the US to study for an MBA at the business school at Cornell. Returning to Germany in 1978, he joined the family firm, which he now heads with his cousin, Friedrich Lürssen.

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