NOAA Fisheries Scientist Wins 2010 Göteborg Award for Sustainable Development

August 19, 2010

NOAA Fisheries scientist Kenneth Sherman.

NOAA Fisheries scientist Kenneth Sherman.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA Fisheries scientist Kenneth Sherman is one of two 2010 recipients of the Göteborg Award for Sustainable Development, considered the environmental equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Sherman, recognized for his work on large marine ecosystems, will share the award with Costa Rican activist Randall Arauz in a ceremony in Göteborg, Sweden on November 17.

Sherman, who is director of NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Marine Ecosystems Studies and of the NOAA Fisheries Narragansett, R.I., Laboratory, developed and promoted the concept of large marine ecosystems (LMEs), which creates natural units that include socioeconomic factors and ecological considerations.

“Ken Sherman’s LME model is exceptional because it’s built on a holistic view with a system perspective,” the award committee noted. “Ken Sherman has worked tirelessly for decades, and become more and more successful in generating acceptance for the concept among scientists and politicians. Today the LME concept is generally accepted around the world and has a global network of 64 LME areas.”

The concept of LMEs was pioneered by Sherman and University of Rhode Island colleague Lewis Alexander in the 1980s as a way to manage large areas of the ocean by identifying distinct ecosystems based on topography, water depths and currents, productivity and food chain interactions. NOAA supported the concept, and the United Nations provided funding through its environmental program, which published an extensive volume co-edited by Sherman detailing the characteristics and state of the 64 LMEs in 2009. Sherman also heads the U.S. LME program.

More than 100 developing countries are implementing LME projects worldwide. Contributions total $3.1 billion from the Global Environment Facility and World Bank and are disbursed through partnerships with NOAA, donor agencies from other countries, five UN agencies and two non-governmental institutions. “International LME projects are making significant progress in recovering depleted fish stocks, improving degraded habitats, reducing pollution and nutrient over-enrichment, and conserving biodiversity,” Sherman says. “These efforts are also helping countries adopt ecosystem management policies to adapt to climate change.”

Randall Arauz, the other recipient of the prize, is the founder and president of the Costa Rican environmental organization Pretoma. Arauz has worked to make people aware of and to stop the practice of shark finning in Costa Rica and internationally.

The Göteborg Award for Sustainable Development was founded in 1999 by the City of Göteborg and several businesses to stimulate and recognize strategic work in sustainable development, nationally and internationally.

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