Cetacean Society International
Whales Alive! - Vol. IX No. 3 - July 2000
Congratulations to UNEP Global 500
Award Winner Abbi Bjorgvinsson!
By William Rossiter, CSI President
CSI heartily congratulates Asbjorn (Abbi) Bjorgvinsson, Director of the
Husavik Whale Center in Iceland, for being awarded the United Nations
Environment Program (UNEP) Global 500 Roll of Honour, in June, during World
Environment Day ceremonies in Adelaide, Australia. Klaus Toepfer, UNEP
Executive Director said, "As a defender of the environment, you are an
active partner in the struggle for environmental protection. You do not seek
rewards, but your achievements richly deserve to be recognized. UNEP is indeed
honoured to pay tribute to your commitment and we hope that this recognition
will encourage you to continue your work. I hope that, as a new laureate, you
will become part of a growing global network of allies assisting UNEP in its
responsibilities for the care of our planet." CSI has supported the
Center for many years and we are thrilled that Abbi has again been recognized
for his work. Abbi is the first winner from CSI's nominations over the
years, our benefit from CSI's own 1988 Global 500 award.
Last November Abbi was awarded the Netherlands' "Knight of The
Golden Ark" medal by H.R.H. Prince Bernhard. This award is given to
people dedicated to promote conservation and education on wildlife. (See
Whales Alive!, January 2000.)
Abbi's goal with his work for the Husavik Whale Center and
Iceland's whale watching business is to change the public's attitude
toward whales and whale watching within Iceland. Early this year he organized
a whale watch workshop, with support from the International Fund for Animal
Welfare. The workshop demonstrated to Icelandic operators that close
cooperation could result in better service to the tourists, better whale
watching and greater public awareness regarding the whales. Guidelines on
whale watching are conscientiously applied and great care is taken not to
disturb the wildlife. Abbi recently reported that 20,000 tourists have gone on
whale watching tours from Husavik and 12,000 guests visited the Whale Center
this year. The total number of whale watchers in Iceland this summer is
estimated to have been close to 35,000. Whale watching is now considered one
of the most promising sectors for Iceland's future tourism.
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