Sunday, 16 June 2013

OBE Gratitude

Outside Buckingham Palace with OBE - December 19 2013
I have just got off the plane from Jeju Island after a long journey and am now trying to assimilate the fact that my name is among those listed in the Queen's 2013 Birthday Honours, details of which were released yesterday. I have been awarded an OBE for services to environmental sciences and marine mammal conservation. It is deeply gratifying that the value of marine conservation has been recognised in this unexpected way.

For the greater part of my career it has been my privilege to have focused on marine wildlife and particularly whales, dolphins and porpoises. These are animals that the British public undoubtedly love but trying to improve the situation of these splendid and inspiring animals in the increasingly busy seas of our planet remains very much an uphill struggle. The good news is that chemical and noise pollution, which are important threats to marine wildlife, are now widely recognised as such (it was not always this way). Equally positively, the global moratorium on commercial whaling remains in place, despite many attempts to displace it. If it was not there, whale-killing would certainly expand.

I continue to feel passionate about improving the protection of marine wildlife. However, just as it ‘takes a village to raise a child’, it also takes a village to have an impact in the conservation field; and an award like this recognises a whole network of people. Without the necessary funds, the strategic advice and the support of friends and colleagues, nothing would be achieved. I am delighted that WDCS is recognised in the citation for the award, I have spent the better part of the last two decades working with them, and I continue to work closely with this very special and important charity. My ‘village’ also includes other ‘whale champions’. It was the Environmental Investigation Agency that sent me to my first meeting of the IWC in 1994 (I have not missed an annual meeting since). Before this, Greenpeace International started to involve me in the work of the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS) in the early 1990s. In the intervening years CMS has generated a series of regional agreements for whales and dolphins.

Also at the heart of my ‘village’ is the Humane Society International which champions the ongoing battles against the mistreatment of animals around the world. Other core ‘village people’ can be found at the Animal Welfare Institute, WSPA, Campaign Whale, OceanCare,the Wildlife and Countryside Link Whale Working Group, the UK’s ‘Whale Team’ and strandings rescue and investigation networks and my friends within the IGOs. (You know who you are!).


I know that the awarding of an OBE requires a lot of solid support, so thank you for placing me in a position to attract this honour. I accept it for the work of the ‘village’. Finally, I am grateful that my mum and the rest of my family who must have wondered about my unconventional career from time to time and who have had to tolerate many often long absences, will know that other people thought it was worthwhile too.  

Mark


Comment from WDC here.

2 comments:

  1. Huge congratulations, Mark, so very well deserved. You are an inspiration and our fish-eating friends are very lucky that you chose to dedicate your life to being their ambassador. Very proud!
    Claire x

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    1. Thank you Claire that is more that kind, and thank you also all others who have sent similar messages.

      It is my pleasure to work alongside you all. Mark

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