The judges of the Ocean Awards 2023

Meet The Judges of the Ocean Awards 2023

Now in its ninth year, The Ocean Awards recognise those that are committed to solving the ocean crisis. It is held in partnership with BLUE Marine Foundation, one of the UK’s leading ocean conservation charities. The results will be announced in the June 2023 issue of BOAT International.

Meet our esteemed panel of judges:

Professor Martin Attrill, University of Plymouth

Sofia Blount, Trustee of Blue Marine Foundation

George Duffield, Co-Founder of Blue Marine Foundation

Sir Charles Dunstone, Chairman of TalkTalk and Royal Museums Greenwich

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Writer, Broadcaster and Campaigner

Frederikke Magnussen, Co Founder A Plastic Planet

Professor Callum Roberts, University of York

Professor Alex Rogers, Director of Science, REV Ocean

Professor Yvonne Sadovy, University of Hong Kong

Romain Troublé, Managing Director of the Tara Expeditions Foundation

Stephen Catlin, Founder & CEO, Convex Group


Sacha Bonsor, Editorial Director, BOAT International

Charles Clover, Executive Chairman, Blue Marine Foundation

Sofia Blount

Trustee of Blue Marine Foundation

Sofia co-founded the law firm Omnia Strategy LLP in 2011, where her work focused on human rights and environmental law consultancy, including projects on the implementation of UN protocols for the protection of biodiversity. She joined BLUE Marine Foundation in 2017 as a Trustee, driven to help protect the oceans from living in the Balearics on and off from a young age and observing the degradation of the local marine environment. In September 2019, Sofia began her Masters in Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge, with a research dissertation focusing on seagrass conservation. She is married to the musician James Blunt and would like to increasingly engage the music community in marine conservation.

What concerns you the most about our ocean crisis?

Much of the future health of our oceans lies in the hands of policy-makers and they have, to date, not been ambitious enough about tackling the ocean crisis. Foremost, this includes tackling the climate crisis to prevent more ocean warming and acidification. Furthermore they must enforce sustainable fishing in their national waters, create and enforce sufficient protected areas and invest into preventing ocean pollution.

What single, practical act would you ask the public to take to help protect our oceans?

have two! Through a prism of ocean optimism, please write to your politicians calling for them to create effective marine reserves, stop providing perverse subsidies which drive over and illegal fishing, and ask them to negotiate on behalf of your country to effectively protect thirty per cent of the High Seas (beyond our national jurisdictions). And buy only truly sustainable seafood, ideally caught by local artisanal fishermen.

George Duffield

BLUE Marine Foundation co-founder

In 2011 award-winning wildlife photographer and environmentalist George Duffield produced the documentary film The End of the Line, which alerted the world to the crisis in our oceans and won the 2011 Puma Creative Impact Award. Determined to keep the momentum for change going, he co-founded the BLUE Marine Foundation. He is also a founding partner of Ocean 14 Capital, a private equity firm that invests in growth companies and technologies that offer sustainable solutions for our oceans while generating an attractive return for investors.

What concerns you the most about our ocean crisis?

The vast majority of people continue to not understand that the key to climate change is a healthy ocean. Without a real focus of resource and will on the ocean, all attempts at heading off catastrophic climate change will fail.

What has impressed you the most about the 2020 finalists?

All the finalists are committed conservationists or scientists putting 100% of their time and effort into their work. It is humbling how many people are devoting their lives to finding solutions to the problems we have created, with little regard for their own prosperity and even their safety.

What single, practical act would you ask the public to take to help protect our oceans?

Pressure politicians to listen to the scientists and protect the sea. It is amazing what a few hundred or thousand letters on the desk of the Prime Minister can do to government and global policy.

Sir Charles Dunstone

TalkTalk & Royal Museums Greenwich chairman

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 and then having floated 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. Now chairman of TalkTalk, Sir Charles 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). He was knighted in 2012 for services to the telecommunications industry and charity.

What concerns you the most about our ocean crisis?

The fact that most people can’t see and don’t appreciate the scale of what is happening.

What impressed you the most about the 2020 finalists?

The passion and drive of individuals from all over the world to try turn back the tide of human damage.

Frederikke Magnussen

A Plastic Planet co-founder

Frederikke Magnussen is co-founder of A Plastic Planet, which aims to inspire the world to “turn off the plastic tap”. The social impact movement, founded in 2017 with Sian Sutherland, aims to represent the public’s right for a plastic free choice by working collaboratively with retailers, governments and the United Nations. As part of their work they have created two Plastic Free Marks; The Plastic Free Trust Mark, for products and packaging, and the Commitment Mark for business, demonstrating their intention to reduce plastic.

Aside from her work with A Plastic Planet, Magnussen and her husband have also set up the Ocean Family Foundation (OFF).

What concerns you the most about our ocean crisis?

Humans are the biggest danger to the oceans. Eighty per cent of ocean pollution comes from land-based activities like plastic, trash and pollution from agriculture.

What single, practical act would you ask the public to take to help protect our oceans?

The public are already doing amazing initiatives. I would like to see big businesses and industries take more responsibility and actions to protect and stop the destruction of the ocean's health.

What impressed you the most about the 2020 finalists?

I loved learning from the different categories this year. The Local Hero entries, from countries such as Ghana to French Polynesia, had such inspiring individuals that against all odds had achieved their goals in protecting the oceans. The Public Awareness Award is also close to my heart; if the wider public don’t receive facts, nothing will change.

Professor Callum Roberts

Professor at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation

Callum Roberts, previously a professor of marine conservation at the University of York recently moved to the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter's Cornwall campus in July 2020. His past research focuses on threats to marine ecosystems and species, and on finding the means to protect them. His team provided the scientific underpinning for a new ocean protection target – 30% by 2030 – which is gaining widespread international support.

His latest book, Reef Life: An Underwater Memoir, is on the past and future of coral reefs, the world’s richest marine ecosystem. He was chief scientific advisor for the BBC’s Blue Planet II and is chief scientific advisor to BLUE Marine Foundation, as well as an ambassador for WWF UK.

What concerns you the most about our ocean crisis?

We are reacting late to problems that have developed in the sea over the past 200 years, because life below the waves is out of sight most of the time and therefore easy to ignore. That means we have to expand the scale and intensity of ocean conservation and restoration very fast now to catch up.

What measures have you taken to help protect the oceans?

As a scientist, I study the impacts that people have on marine life, both in the past and present, and test methods to recover and rebuild losses and damage. One of the most powerful means at our disposal for breathing life back into degraded seas is to protect areas fully from extractive and damaging activities like fishing and dumping. We need to greatly expand the coverage of these protected areas, reaching at least 30% of the sea by 2030, to halt biodiversity loss and slow the rate of climate change.

What single, practical act would you ask the public to take to help protect our oceans?

Write to your elected representatives asking them to support greater ocean protection. If they know that it matters to you, they are much more likely to act.

Charles Clover

Ocean Awards co-chair & BLUE Marine Foundation executive chairman

Charles Clover is the co-founder and executive director of the BLUE Marine Foundation, which is dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing. Clover made his name as an author and environmental journalist, and was environment editor of The Daily Telegraph for 22 years and a columnist for The Sunday Times. In 2004 Clover published his book, The End of the Line, which went on to be the basis for an award-winning documentary film of the same name that raised the issue of overfishing as a global problem.

What concerns you the most about our ocean crisis?

That sea levels are expected to rise by a metre by 2100. That is double what we thought 30 years ago.

What single, practical act would you ask the public to take to help protect our oceans?

Buy sustainably caught fish.

What impressed you the most about the 2020 finalists?

These were people striving to solve some of the ocean’s problems and actually succeeding. We just need more of them and some renewable energy.

Picture Credit: Mattias Klum

Romain Troublé

Managing director of Tara Expeditions Foundation

Romain Troublé is the executive director of the Tara Ocean Foundation, which organises voyages to study and understand the impact of climate change and the ecological crisis facing the world's oceans.

Prior to his work with the organisation Troublé was a professional sailor, participating in the French challenges at the 2000 and 2003 America’s Cups. He also worked from 2003 to 2006 for a company that specialised in polar logistics, organising sporting and scientific expeditions in the Arctic, Antarctica and Siberia.

Since 2017, Troublé has been president of the Ocean Climate Platform, which brings together more than 70 institutions, foundations, companies and associations working on advocacy for the ocean’s role in issues of climate change and biodiversity.

What concerns you the most about our ocean crisis?

The ocean is facing loads of threats, but my greatest concern is the heat and deoxygenation of our ocean. Oxygen depletion is having a direct impact on marine life and its ecosystem. At the same time, rising temperatures threaten the microbiome structures, which are the base of most of the ocean life.

What single, practical act would you ask the public to take to help protect our oceans?

Education is very important, but in our daily lives each of us have tremendous power when we decide how to spend our money. We should always be considering what products we are purchasing. Which is the best for nature as a whole? Which product has less single use plastic?

What impressed you the most about the 2020 finalists?

It was great to see individuals inspiring others to commit or engage with ocean conservation. This year again we had a great bunch with very different personalities, and they all deserve to be recognised for the work they are doing.

Picture Credit: Noëlie Pansiot

Sacha Bonsor

Ocean Awards co-chair & _Boat International_ editorial director

Sacha Bonsor

Sacha Bonsor is the Editorial Director of BOAT International and a former editor at Harper’s Bazaar, The Times and the Daily Mail. Ocean conservation is one of the main pillars at the heart of BOAT's storytelling because, she says, “saving the sea is one of, if not the most, important issues facing humanity today, and it is also the thing that our audience cares about above all else.”

What measures has BOAT International taken to help protect the oceans?

We have done an enormous amount to help the oceans and will continue to do so.  We launched the Ocean Awards five years ago, which we are celebrating shortly by announcing this year’s winners.  We launched Ocean Talks three years ago, which brings closer together the yacht industry and the world of marine conservation, and we launched our Yachts for Science programme last year, which we hope will act as a Tinder-like service between yachts and scientists.

What single, practical act would you ask the public to take to help protect our oceans?

I think the most important challenge for anyone hoping to help save our ocean is one of communication. For the vast majority of people, the sea is a distant place, despite the fact that it takes up 70% of our planet, and so the threat of its diminishing health is not at the forefront of their mind.  We all need to do our bit to communicate to those around us, in whatever way we can, that if the ocean is not kept healthy, it will directly impact our livelihoods, and that of our children and grandchildren.

Picture Credit: Tim Barker

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