In the world of science, there are few honors that are significant enough to be compared to something as prestigious as an Academy Award in the film industry. One award noteworthy of paralleling this comparison is the Peter Benchley Ocean Award, named after Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws. This award recognizes individuals whose breakthrough research and contributions in aquatic studies aid in the conservation of the marine world. Several recipients are selected every year for their influence, and the recipients for this year include UC Santa Barbara professor Christopher Costello.
Castello, as well as seven other leaders in the foreground of marine studies, were chosen to receive this award. David Helvarg and Wendy Benchley founded the award in honor of Peter Benchley, who worked alongside his wife for decades to protect the shark population from unwanted farming. Furthermore, the duo set out to raise awareness of the importance of marine conservation in a time of global warming and increased predation of sea creatures by humans. While Benchley unfortunately passed away, his wife, Wendy, a respected ocean conservationist and marine policy advocate, carried on his legacy by working with Blue Frontier Campaign’s founder and Executive Director, David Helvarg, to name the award as a tribute to Peter.
As a professor of Environmental and Resource Economics at UCSB’s Bren School, Christopher Costello was nominated for his Excellence in Solutions. Upon receiving his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 2000, Costello went on to focus on the economics of environmental regulation and natural-source management under conditions of uncertainty.
“Working with academic and advocacy partners, he’s developed ways to align marine reserves and sustainable local fishing in tropical coastal nations including Indonesia, the Philippines, Belize, Brazil and Mozambique. He’s also worked with the World Bank and others to promote ‘50 in 10,’ a bold initiative to restore half of the world’s commercial fisheries to ecologically sustainable levels over the next decade. This effort is part of Costello’s practical vision that includes healthy wild fisheries, a healthy ocean, coasts and the communities whose economies and environment depend on them,” said the spokesperson of the Benchley award regarding Costello’s nomination.
Currently, Costello serves as the co-founder of the Sustainable Fisheries Group whose purpose is aimed at incorporating economics and aquatic science to repair the damage experienced by the world’s depleted fisheries. By implementing effective strategies to counter marine damage, Costello is helping pave the road to a more sustainable oceanic atmosphere.