For more than forty years, Wendy Benchley has witnessed ocean wildlife firsthand as a scuba diver. She has seen the alarming ways it has changed over the years, and is a passionate advocate for marine life, as was her late husband Peter Benchley (author of Jaws). The growing SIGNMAPS coalition is honoured to welcome her as a supporter of the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary.
Wendy co-founded the prestigious Peter Benchley Ocean Awards, an annual award honoring her late husband’s legacy, in order to shine a light on the exceptional conservation work being done by marine scientists, researchers, explorers, and policy makers both in the United States and internationally. Now in its seventh year, the Benchley’s have awarded nearly fifty honorees for excellence and achievement.
Based in Washington, D.C., Wendy is actively engaged in the marine policy community and supports many of the world’s leading ocean & environmental philanthropies. She was President of the Board of Shark Savers and was instrumental in helping to merge the organization into WildAid, a widely respected global non-profit solely focused on reducing demand for illegal wildlife products, including ivory, rhino horn and shark fin, where she is currently a member of the Board of Directors. Wendy is the 2014 recipient of the International SeaKeepers Award, which is given annually to an individual or an organization that has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to ocean conservation.
“Over the past forty years we have witnessed the wholesale destruction of Earth’s fragile marine ecosystems, including collapsing fisheries, massive coral reef die-offs, mega-ton piles of plastic pollution, and vast oxygen-choked dead zones across all corners of our blue planet,” says Benchley. “This destruction coupled with the powerful systemic pressures of climate change, which are rapidly warming the global ocean—accelerating both sea level rise and acidification—have created an unprecedented need to protect as much of the ocean as possible to allow our seas to recover and rejuvenate. To this end, we have made progress over the past decade in establishing more than 5,000 MPAs covering more than three per cent of the ocean, but the scientific consensus is that to create a fully sustainable ocean, we need to fully protect at least 30 per cent. That’s a nearly ten-fold difference that must be addressed.
Given this urgency, I strongly support the creation of the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS), which will establish all ocean waters north of the Arctic Circle as a marine protected area, free from oil drilling and all other exploitation by companies and countries—forever.”
In a time when the UN is still well short of its target to protect just ten per cent of the world’s oceans, MAPS protects three per cent in a single international agreement. MAPS also stops all activity in the Arctic Ocean that harms the melting polar ice, our planet’s air conditioner, and ensures the regeneration of this essential ecosystem.
“Wendy Benchley is a staunch advocate for ocean life,” says Parvati.org founder Parvati Devi. “Her dedication to our oceans is lifelong, beautiful and inspiring. May all follow her lead and activate for a healthy world, beginning with the Arctic Ocean.”
Parvati.org is a not-for-profit dedicated to a healthy world. Its first order
of business is the realization of MAPS: the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary,
an effective step to cool our planet and keep our oceans alive.