Oceans Awards win – Raincoast’s Dr. Chris Darimont honoured with Murray A. Newman Conservation Award

Excellence in aquatic research and science was celebrated at the annual event this week hosted by Ocean Wise at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Earlier this week, Raincoast’s Dr. Chris Darimont was honoured with the Murray A. Newman Conservation award at the Ocean Awards. The award was presented by Dr. Peter Ross, Vice-president of Research at Ocean Wise®.

Darimont was recognized for the significance of his work as well as a career that already includes important and leading contributions, in coastal science and conservation.

Recognized as one of the top large carnivore scientists in Canada and internationally, Darimont is Raincoast’s Director of Science and holds the Raincoast Chair in Applied Conservation Science at the University of Victoria. Trained broadly, Chris and his research team use ecological, evolutionary, and social sciences approaches to confront real-world conservation problems and opportunities.

Collectively, Darimont’s body of work is making significant contributions to coastal research, and the growing body of knowledge on the interface between species and habitats that bridge land and sea. Since 2009, Darimont has led Raincoast’s salmon carnivore program which is focused on understanding the relationship between bears, salmon and people in the Great Bear Rainforest. This research program works in partnership with six Indigenous nations (the Heiltsuk, Wuikinuxv, Kitasoo-Xai’xais, Nuxalk, and Gitga’at Nations) in an area of over 22,000 square kilometers.

Peter Ross and Chris Darimont at the Ocean Awards.
Dr. Peter Ross hands the Murray A. Newman Conservation Award to Dr. Chris Darimont at the Ocean Awards at the Vancouver Aquarium. Photo by Ocean Wise.

A celebration of a community of conservationists

Darimont was honoured alongside other esteemed scholars, organizations and conservationists including UBC’s Dr. Rashid Sumaila, for his fisheries conservation research, Dr. Erin Rechsteiner for highly significant student research.

Rob Stewart, whose Ocean Award for Conservation and Research Communication, was accepted by his parents Brian and Sandy Stewart, in honour of his global contribution to shark conservation.

“We are so grateful to receive this important award on behalf of Rob and his life’s work to save sharks and the oceans,” said Brian and Sandy Stewart. “We know Rob would have been thrilled. Through his films, Sharkwater, Revolution and Sharkwater Extinction, Rob worked tirelessly to bring awareness of the need for conservation and inspired people to imagine a world lived in harmony with nature. As parents, we are so very proud of all Rob accomplished – we know he changed the world; but we also know that there is still much to be done. Rob’s work will continue through the Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation and we accept this award committed to continuing his mission to protect this planet for generations to come.”

Stewart made history with his 2006 documentary Sharkwater, which brought the devastating issue of shark finning to the world stage. The film had the largest opening weekend of any Canadian documentary, and won over 70 awards at prestigious film festivals around the world. Today, over 90 countries have banned shark finning, and a shark research group credits him with saving 1/3 of the world’s sharks. He died tragically in 2017 while filming Sharkwater Extinction, his third documentary and the follow-up to Sharkwater.

“Rob changed the course of history for sharks around the world; his contributions were profound and immeasurable. The Ocean Award for Conservation and Research Communication serves to honour the memory of someone who did so much on behalf of the world’s oceans,” said Dr. Peter Ross, vice-president of Research at Ocean Wise.

Murray A. Newman awards rest on a table at the Ocean Awards.
Murray A. Newman Conservation Award for highly significant recent work and/or an entire career of important, field-leading contributions in ocean conservation. Photo by Ocean Wise.

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Sam Scott and Peter Ross standing in front of the future mobile lab, which is a grey sprinter van.