In an era of seemingly unlimited threats to the environment, ocean health is one of the most urgent and severe challenges facing activists today. The oceans are under fire from almost uncountable ills, including rampant overfishing, ocean acidification, plastics pollution, oil spills, and ocean dumping, to name a few. But although the challenges are humbling, there are some activists who have faced them head-on, and with astounding success.
Jean Wiener and Howard Wood may live 4,000 miles apart, but their lives have taken many similar turns. Both grew up surrounded by water, and have a deep love of the ocean, expressed through years of snorkeling in Haiti’s tropical waters in Wiener’s case, and through chilly dives off the Scottish coast in Wood’s. Over time, both witnessed dire changes in their local coastal zones, and both responded by working tirelessly for marine protection. Through decades of persistence, both men built community support for improved marine management and helped shape stronger national ocean policies. And on Monday, both were among this year’s recipients of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.