Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nominate Kathy Pagapular Ruszala's Sixth Grade Class for a Peter Benchly Ocean Award

Here it goes, I'm asking for your help yet one more time. Will you nominate Kathy Pagapular's San Vicente Elementary School Sixth Grade Class for a Peter Benchley Ocean Award in Youth Activism? Kathy's class supported shark protections in the Northern Marianas this year and jumpstarted momentum for a year of shark conservation. They deserve recognition.

Click here to learn how to nominate San Vicente Elementary School for a Peter Benchley Ocean Award in Youth Activism.

The deadline for nominations is December 31, 2011. Nominations should include 2- 6 paragraphs on the nominee and why the nominator finds them deserving in their category. Feel free to include supporting materials and/or links. Please include the nominees contact information and your contact information.

Submit to benchleys@bluefront.org. Mark subject line - Benchley Nomination - Youth Activism. Nominators names will be held in confidence.

2011 was a watershed year in shark conservation. And where did it all start? Saipan. On January 27, Governor Ben Fitial signed a law criminalizing the sale, trade, and possession of shark fin. This act kicked off 12 months of improved protections for sharks, including shark sanctuaries in The Bahamas, Honduras, the Marshalls, and Tokelau, shark fin bans in Guam, California, Washington, Oregon, and half a dozen Canadian cities, protections for oceanic whitetips, hammerheads, and silky sharks on the high seas, and agreements by international and regional bodies to implement more protections in 2012.

The law in the Northern Marianas was supported by many in the community, including fishermen, divers, and the conservation-minded, but a sixth grade class at San Vicente Elementary School may have done more than anyone else to make sure sharks received protections.

I could tell their story, but filmmaker Rob Stewart does it much better with his short film Sharkwater Saipan. This short film is just a preview of Rob's second feature film Revolution, due out in theaters next year.


Watch Sharkwater Saipan on Youtube.

I am asking you to write your own nominations (but I am available to help or edit). Two paragraphs should not be that difficult. Think of this award as something that will come home to the Marianas, not just San Vicente Elementary.

I make this request as the Saipan Blogger and the Godfather of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, not as someone who works for an organization that shall go unnamed. I have had the honor of meeting many shark champions around the world this year including Tony DeBrum from the Marshall Islands, Ev Quiel and Melanie Blas on Guam, Manoa Rasagitale in Fiji, Rob Stewart in Canada, and many others, but my home and my heart lies with Saipan. So let's bring that award home!

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