The Marine Conservation Institute has announced the recipients of the 2011 Mia J. Tegner Memorial Research Grants in Marine Environmental History and Historical Marine Ecology. Funded through a partnership between Marine Conservation Institute and Holland America Line, this grant program is one of the first of its kind to support efforts to study past ocean conditions.

The 2011 Mia J. Tegner Memorial Research Grant Recipients are:

·         Yulia Ivashchenko, National Marine Mammal Laboratory: “Soviet illegal whaling in the North Pacific: reconstructing catches, preserving memories.”

·         Dr. Merry Camhi, Wildlife Conservation Society: “A four-century retrospective of marine fauna and fisheries around New York City.”

·         Shaleyla Kelez, Duke University: “Historical baseline of diversity and abundance of Peruvian marine mega-vertebrates to disentangle climate from fisheries effects.”

·         Telmo Morato, Universidade dos Açores: “The historical impacts of fishing on seamount ecosystems: Applying an Ecosystem Evaluation Framework for seamount ecology, fisheries and conservation.”

“We are proud to be advancing the science of marine conservation biology and historical marine ecology by supporting these efforts to better understand the history of our oceans,” said Dr. Lance Morgan, Vice President of Science at Marine Conservation Institute. He noted that this year there were an especially large number of deserving projects. “We received proposals from applicants to fund work in areas ranging from Antarctica to the North Atlantic, and the four projects we funded will help establish historical baselines of past ocean and coastal environments to inform conservation and management.

“I am impressed with the passion and dedication of these researchers whose work covers a wide variety of marine ecosystems and animals,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs, Holland America Line.  “I am proud that Holland America Line can help support several important research programs again in 2011.  Their work is very important to our planet.”

The grant program is a tribute to Dr. Mia J. Tegner, a marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who died in January 2001 while diving off the Southern California coast. Dr. Tegner studied the ecology of kelp forest communities and abalone populations, and was particularly interested in understanding how marine populations and ecosystems have changed as a result of human activities. The Mia J. Tegner Program was established in 2001 to support the efforts of promising young scientists and graduate students to document the composition and abundance of ocean life before large-scale human alterations. This information is essential for helping policy-makers, law-makers, regulators, managers and conservationists set appropriate targets for marine conservation efforts.

The 2011 grants were made possible by a generous donation by Holland America Line. The funding is an extension of “Our Marvelous Oceans,” a three-year program announced by the two partners in 2010. The partnership also includes guest and staff education, support for marine conservation biology research, and the recent creation of a sustainable seafood program with environmentally responsible purchasing practices and menus that showcase sustainable seafood.