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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