October 4, 2012

Whitehouse Receives Ocean Leadership Award

National Coalition Highlights RI Senator’s Fight to Preserve Healthy Oceans and Coasts

Narragansett, RI – In a ceremony today at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO), the Consortium for Ocean Leadership presented U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse with its inaugural Admiral James D. Watkins Award.  Whitehouse was recognized for his involvement in founding and co-chairing the Senate Oceans Caucus, as well as for his fight to establish a National Endowment for the Oceans to fund ocean and coastal research and restoration efforts.

The Consortium is a nonprofit national organization that is coming to Rhode Island to present the award to Whitehouse directly.

“As a Senator for the Ocean State, it’s a particular honor to receive this award,” said Whitehouse.  “Our state relies on our Bay and ocean for so much – from fishing, to tourism, to boating, and soon, we hope, wind energy.  With all of that at stake, I’ve been proud to continue the Rhode Island tradition, set by Senators Claiborne Pell and John Chafee, of fighting to protect our coastal waters so they can continue to enrich our lives by supporting a thriving ecosystem and all the jobs that come with it.”

According to the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the Watkins Award is presented to those who have distinguished themselves as champions of ocean science through sponsorship of legislation, development of sound ocean policy, or promoting federal investment to advance the field of oceanography.  The award’s namesake, the late Admiral James D. Watkins, chaired the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy from 2001 to 2004 and served as Chief of Naval Operations under President Reagan. 

“In honor of the late Admiral James D. Watkins, Ocean Leadership created this award in his name to commemorate his deep devotion and dedication to the ocean and to carry on his life’s quest to understand and protect the sea,” said Bob Gagosian, President & CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.  “Today, we are proud to present this award to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in recognition of his tremendous leadership in advancing marine science and conserving our nation’s ocean and coastal resources.  This is truly a national award for a national leader.”

“Senator Whitehouse has provided critical leadership in ocean-related issues that will have a significant impact on the future of the oceans for years to come,” said Dr. Bruce Corliss, Dean of URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography.  “The Admiral James D. Watkins Award from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership is recognition of his commitment and contributions to the stewardship of the oceans, and we are delighted to host this event at the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island.”

Whitehouse helped found the Senate Oceans Caucus in 2011, and serves as co-chair of the group alongside Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).  The Caucus is a bipartisan group that works to increase awareness of, and find common ground in responding to, issues facing the oceans and coasts.  The group has 20 members.

Earlier this year, the Senate passed legislation that included a provision authored by Whitehouse to establish a National Endowment for the Oceans.  The Endowment would provide a dedicated source of funds to help protect our oceans and coasts and support jobs in industries like fishing and tourism, and provide funding opportunities for Rhode Island organizations and agencies, including URI and GSO.


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