Section Update: Marine

New SCB Marine Section award recognizes bravery in conservation

At the 4th International Marine Conservation Congress (28 July - 1 August) in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the SCB Marine Section awarded the first Jairo Mora Sandoval Award. The award, named after a Costa Rican sea turtle researcher who was murdered on the beach where he worked, will honor an individual who has demonstrated bravery while undertaking marine conservation.

Jairo Mora Sandoval was killed whilst protecting turtle eggs from poachers. The first award to be made in his name will be made posthumously to Jairo himself. Nearly 1,000 conservation biologists were murdered for simply doing their job between 2002 and 2014, according to Global Witness. The SCB Marine Section is hoping that this award will bring some much-needed attention to the persecution of conservation biologists.

Jairo Mora Sandoval was killed whilst protecting turtle eggs from poachers in Costa Rica.

Early signs are that the award will have the intended impact. SCB Marine Section Policy Officer, Andrew Wright, has already appeared on the popular Speak up for the Blue marine science podcast talking about how the Section’s policy committee came up with the idea to recognise those like Jairo. There has also been extensive media coverage in Jairo’s home country, including in the Tico Times and on the Spanish language

Going forward, the SCB Marine Section will continue to make the Jairo award at each International Marine Conservation Congress, so on a biennial basis. The next will therefore be made in Kuching, Sarawak in 2018 at the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress. While it would be preferable to not have to make the award again, the SCB Marine Section believes that keeping the issue of the persecution of conservation biologists on the table means such unacceptable actions are less likely to be part of our future.

The Jairo award includes a financial contribution to an organization associated with the awardee. The inaugural award is being made to the Asociación Jairo Mora Sandoval, which was set up by Jairo’s family to continue his conservation work. Further information about the award will soon be available on the SCB Marine Section website.