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The winners of the Ocean Awards 2018

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The Public Awareness Award: James Honeyborne and Mark Brownlow and team

Executive producer, series producer and team whose breathtaking series captures oceans’ plight

This award recognises the individual or group that has done the most this year to advance public understanding of marine conservation issues, be it through the mainstream media, art forms, in schools, or through campaigning.

16 years after the original Blue Planet series, the BBC’s Natural History Unit, in partnership with the Open University, produced a follow-up, a seven-episode series presented by Sir David Attenborough and broadcast at prime-time on Sunday evenings. Towards the end of the Blue Planet II series last year, it was attracting audiences of 17 million; when Theresa May visited China in January, she took Xi Jinping a copy of the box set.

This was serious television setting the agenda in a way anyone concerned with the plight of the world’s oceans could only find cheering. The series was filmed over four years, involving 125 shoots in 39 countries and 6,000 hours of underwater filming.The final episode, Our Blue Planet, examined the toll taken on the oceans by humanity through over-fishing (and discarded fishing gear), the careless trashing of plastics, especially those used just once, noise and light pollution. If we do not act, was its message, then the marine life you have marvelled at will be gone.

The BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, expects to sell Blue Planet II in 200 territories. As the series’ executive producer James Honeyborne puts it: “Ocean-related problems tend to be global issues. If you drop a bit of plastic in one ocean, it can end up in another, even several oceans away. So it’s great for this series to get into every country it can.” The series continues to be cited as an inspiration, not least by Buckingham Palace. In February a palace spokesperson announced that single-use plastic bottles and drinking straws would no longer be used on royal estates.

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