Peter Young

Peter Young

Ten years ago as a freelance documentary cameraman, Peter was invited to film the wildlife in Antarctica’s Ross Sea, widely regarded as the most pristine stretch of ocean on the planet. He was so moved by his experience in this remote and remarkable corner of the world that when he discovered a recently established toothfish fishery threatened the natural balance of the ecosystem, he decided to step out from behind the camera and do something about it. Teaming up with US Antarctic ecologist Dr David Ainley, Colorado photographer John Weller and a small group of concerned Ross Sea scientists and other like-minded folk, he worked on a campaign called The Last Ocean, calling for a halt to commercial fishing and protection of the entire Ross Sea.

After years of travelling up and down New Zealand raising awareness of the Ross Sea and the need to protect it, he produced The Last Ocean documentary which went on to become an important part of the campaign. It screened in festivals around the world winning multiple awards. The UK premiere of the film was at the Royal Geographical Society in London. In the audience was the grand-daughter of Sir Robert Falcon Scott and the descendants of Sir James Clark Ross, the man who first put the Ross Sea on the map in 1841. Honoured to be standing in the same room where Ross, Scott and Shackleton told their tales from the Ross Sea – Peter noted that their’s were of courage, exploration and adventure and that his was a very different tale, told in a very different world.

“A little more than 100 years separates our stories, yet over that time we have seen dramatic change in our oceans. 80 per cent of the world’s oceans have been over-exploited, 90 per cent of the large fish have gone. Simply put, if we lose life in our oceans we lose life itself and the fact that the Ross Sea is our last healthy, intact ocean should be all the reason we need to protect it.” said Peter.

“Creating a “Serengeti of the South” would set aside one of the last bastions of the natural world for all humanity to study, celebrate and to share. And I hope that in future those who make the long journey south will not only be rewarded by the incredible landscapes and wildlife that I saw, but by the knowledge that humanity has had the sense to protect this great ocean wilderness.”

Peter Young has championed the Ross sea being made a marine reserve. He works tirelessly for the best of our planet. His film has created great discussion about the demise of our oceans and our need to do more. He is a bastion of the effort of one heart can make our world a greater place. He is a legend.

More information:

Nominated by: Chelsea de Berry, Creative Resuscitation on 19 January 2017

Seaweek Note: A remote and largely pristine stretch of ocean off Antarctica received international protection in October 2016, becoming the world’s largest marine reserve as a broad coalition of countries came together to protect 598,000 square miles of water in the Ross Sea, otherwise known as The Last Ocean.

Note: NZAEE Seaweek is not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the person nominating the Ocean Champion nominee.

See all the Seaweek 2017 Ocean Champion nominees here.

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