Meet The Judges of the Ocean Awards 2021

Meet The Judges of the Ocean Awards 2021

Now in it's sixth 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 be announced in the June 2021 issue of BOAT International.

Meet our esteemed panel of judges:


Princess Zahra Aga Khan

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

Evi Lazou, Chairman of the A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation

Peter Lürssen, CEO, Lürssen

Frederikke Magnussen, Co Founder A Plastic Planet

Professor Callum Roberts, University of York

Professor Yvonne Sadovy, The University of Hong Kong

Jasper Smith, Chairman of Arksen

Romain Troublé, Managing Director of the Tara Expeditions Foundation

Co-chairs

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.

Evi Lazou

Chairman of the A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation

Evi Lazou is chairman of the A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation, which works in Greece and across the Hellenic world to help preserve the seas, people and culture. The independent family foundation gives grants and implements programmes to support its mission.

Having previously worked in marketing and operations Lazou is also founding partner and chairman of The People's Trust, an organisation that provides business development services and micro-funding to start-ups and small businesses in Greece. She also is one of partners of Greenwood Place, a community of strategic philanthropists.

What concerns you the most about our ocean crisis?

Marine pollution is everywhere. We used to think of the sea as pristine and limitless, immune to human harm, but nowadays the devastating impact of pollution on our seas has become one of the most pressing problems of our times. Microplastics are found in our food and single-use plastic is everywhere, even in places unexplored by humans.

What measures have you taken to help protect the oceans?

The A.C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation works to clear the Mediterranean from marine litter and prevent future littering. Focusing on Greece, our projects include extensive shore cleanups, educational programs, citizen-science programs, awareness-raising activities, and working on projects for specific stakeholder groups, such as fishermen and people in the tourism sector. The Typhoon, the foundation’s 74-metre vessel, operates all year long, cleaning accessible and inaccessible shores and supporting research teams in identifying sources and patterns of marine litter.

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

With our modern lifestyle we are all part of the problem and with our daily decisions we can also play a role in solving it. I urge people to be aware of their own daily habits and to spread the message regarding the need to protect the planet, starting now. There is no time to waste.

Peter Lürssen

Lürssen CEO

As managing partner of the Lürssen Shipyard since 1988, Peter Lürssen is a figurehead within the superyacht industry. A naval architect graduate, industrial engineer and holder of an MBA from Cornell University, Lürssen oversees all seven Lürssen shipyard locations in Northern Germany.

As well as his passion for yachting, marine protection is the focus of Lürssen’s charity work. He is an avid supporter of the BLUE Marine Foundation and spreads the message of marine conservation with clients and industry leaders.

What concerns you the most about our ocean crisis?

There are multiple threats to a healthy ocean eco-system, including unacceptable overfishing, resulting in the depletion of fish stock and the extinction of marine life, as well as the dumping of toxic and plastic waste into the oceans. We cannot afford to tackle these threats one after the other, we need to improve them in parallel.

What impressed you the most about the 2020 finalists?

I was impressed by the personal commitment of the finalists, who suffer challenges, and even the threat of physical violence, while fighting for the ocean.

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 of marine conservation

Callum Roberts is a professor of marine conservation at the University of York. His 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.

Yvonne Sadovy

Professor Yvonne Sadovy

Yvonne Sadovy has been based in Hong Kong since 1993 at the University of Hong Kong. She is a Professor and has worked for decades in the tropics, in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region, on coral reef fishes. Her focus is on reproductive biology, the conservation of threatened species and the management of small-scale, high-value, fisheries for sustainability. She co-Chairs and founded the IUCN Groupers & Wrasses Specialist Group, and co-founded and is Director of the NGO Science and Conservation of Fish Aggregations (www.SCRFA.org), that focuses on a very vulnerable but spectacular part of life history, reproductive gatherings. These are particularly attractive to fish and very easy to overexploit. She focuses her work on the most vulnerable species with the hope that solving the problems they face will help to reduce threats to fishes more generally.

What concerns you the most about our ocean crisis?

A lack of awareness of the vastness of the problems faced by the oceans today, of how important the oceans are to mankind and of the urgency for change.

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

The oceans' problems must be solved by governments, but the public can help by being informed, speaking and writing about the issues they care about, and unconditionally demanding access to responsibly and sustainably sourced seafood.

Jasper Smith

Chairman of Arksen

Jasper has been described as a businessman with an artist’s sensitivity and empathy. After training a sculptor he turned to technology where he built and scaled three highly successful ventures; Playjam, The Fantastic Corp, and Optimistic. Jasper now runs a successful investment company that invests around £10m in a year into Europe’s brightest start-ups, Arksen being one of them. Jasper has spent a lifetime adventuring at sea and on land. He sailed from Sydney to Alaska, via Kamchatka in Russia and climbed all of the major volcanoes along the way and spent a year climbing in South America. He has also sailed boats all over the world for 30 years. His passion for the ocean is paramount which is evident in the ethos behind Arksen.

What concerns you the most about our ocean crisis?

Global ocean conservation currently receives less than 1% of philanthropic funding.  Our largest ecosystem and the one that we all depend on for life is the least protected and least understood.  This stems not from a lack of interest or desire to help but from a lack of a defined ocean conservation funding platform.  10% For The Ocean aims to solve this crisis through a global ocean superfund that encourages individuals and corporations to donate 10% of their charitable giving to ocean related causes.

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

To ensure that at least 10% of their charitable giving is directed towards ocean conservation.

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

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