Dr. Steven Gaines’ winning of the Pew Marine Conservation Fellowship brings a high tide of prestige to UCSB’s Marine Science Institute.

On Sept. 29, Gaines, the director of the Marine Science Institute, was named one of five recipients of the 2003 Pew Fellowship, one of the highest honors in the field of marine conservation. Each 2003 recipient received $150,000 in fellowship money. The money will be awarded by Pew over a three-year period.

Gaines was selected for the fellowship because of his current work with the Marine Science Institute on the cataloging and conservation of California’s marine protected areas (MPAs) as well as his past contributions to the field of marine ecology.

“It is Gaines’ new focus on marine conservation that earned him the Pew,” said Dan Reed, research biologist at the Marine Science Institute.

The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation, which was founded in 1989 and is based in Boston, Mass., annually selects the top scholars in ecology conservation to name as fellows. Within the past 13 years the organization has given the award to 129 scholars.

Gaines will use his award to supplement ongoing work with California’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), said John Ugoretz, senior marine biologist for the California Dept. of Fish and Game. Established in 1999, the MLPA requires the Dept. of Fish and Game to oversee the establishment and maintenance of MPAs. Although California’s MPAs are found all along the state’s coast, pollution and coastal development have made most of California’s coastal estuaries uninhabitable for a large portion of its traditional marine ecology.

“One piece that had been lacking from the MLPA has been detailed information on California’s MPAs – Gaines’ Pew Fellowship gives project leaders the ability to focus attention to this problem,” Ugoretz said

“Gaines’ accomplishment in marine conservation has made him an international identity in marine ecology,” Deputy Director of the Marine Science Institute Mark Brzezinski said.

Two out of the four other members of the 2003 class of Pew Fellows are UC faculty or alumni. The Pew website said Dr. Dennis Kelso of UC Santa Cruz is using his fellowship award to save wild salmon of the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Kristina Gjerde, a UCLA alumna, is working in Poland with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources to investigate and promote governance of the high seas. Other projects the 2003 Pew Fellows are working on include the creation of fishery management in South America and the first marine atlas.

Gaines, who received his Ph.D. in zoology from Oregon State in 1983, joined the USCB faculty in 1994 and became director of the Marine Science Institute in 1997.

“Gaines has made tremendous contributions to campus and local marine ecology,” Marine Biology Dept. Professor Sally Holbrook said.

Gaines was unavailable for comment.