Alaska SeaLife Center Announces Alaska Ocean Leadership Award Recipients
March 17, 2015

Seward, Alaska (January 29, 2015) – The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) is proud to announce the 2015 Alaska Ocean Leadership Awards. These awards are given annually to individuals and organizations that 

have made significant contributions to the awareness and sustainability of the state’s marine resources. The Alaska SeaLife Center appreciates the support provided by the award sponsors and thanks the Awards Committee members: Jason Brune, Dale Hoffman, Dr. Mike Castellini, Dr. Ian Dutton, Lisa Busch, Molly McCammon, Denby Lloyd, and Carlyn Nichols for assistance in selecting the awardees. 

Two of the awards were presented at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium the week of January 19, 2015 at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska. The remaining awards will be presented at the Alaska Marine Gala on February 21, 2015 at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are still available.  For additional information, visit

Following are the 2015 Alaska Ocean Leadership Award winners:

Al Burch will receive the prestigious Walter J. and Ermalee Hickel Lifetime Achievement Award. The late Governor Walter J. Hickel and his wife Ermalee endowed this award for 10 years to recognize an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the management of Alaska’s coastal and ocean resources over a period of 20 years or more. Starting as a shrimp dragger in Seward, Al Burch has fished Alaskan waters for more than 55 years and serves on numerous national and international fishing boards. Since 2002, Al has represented the Kodiak Island Borough on the board of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council. Al accepted the council position because he believes it is important that active fishermen have representation. He strives for an equal balance between various interest groups to ensure Alaskan waters are protected but not overly regulated. Al is a founding member of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and served 30 years on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Advisory Panel. He recently retired as the Executive Director of the Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, a non-profit group representing approximately 40 bottom-fish vessels out of Kodiak. He was inducted into the United Fishermen of Alaska’s Seafood Hall of Fame in 2009 for his dedication to Alaska’s fisheries and ocean resources. Award to be presented at the Alaska Marine Gala.


The Alyeska Vessel of Opportunity Program will receive the Stewardship& Sustainability Award. This award is sponsored by Jason Brune, and honors an industry leader that demonstrates the highest commitment to sustainability of ocean resources. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company employs its Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (SERVS) annually to train and educate crew members of some 450 vessels in Prince William Sound to support spill response in the region. Participants from Valdez, Cordova, Whittier, Homer, Kodiak, and Seward learn necessary skills to join Alyeska in spill response, containment, and recovery. The training results in an entire fleet of an estimated 1,500 professionals now poised to work with SERVS to protect their communities in the unlikely case of an actual incident. The local knowledge and commitment of the Prince William Sound fishing communities is evident in this program’s ongoing success - ensuring that the fisheries and environment are protected and sustained for years to come. Award to be presented at the Alaska Marine Gala.


Alisa Aist will receive the Ocean Youth Award, which is sponsored by Dale Hoffman. The award honors an individual, or team, of Alaskan youth ages 12-19 who have displayed a dedication to promoting the understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s oceans. Alisa is a student at Polaris K-12 School in Anchorage. Her dream to become a marine biologist was born in seventh grade during a school field trip to the tide pools in Homer. Since that trip, Alisa has taken every opportunity to expand her scientific knowledge. Alisa has taken extra science classes at school, attended two summer science camps run through the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and created four research projects for the Alaska Science and Engineering Fair, presenting two of these projects at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Alisa has worked alongside her community to do research and has continued to present her work at school, local organizations, and symposiums. Award to be presented at the Alaska Marine Gala.


Benjamin Carney received the Marine Science Outreach Award. This award is given to a person, team or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to ocean literacy via formal or informal education, media or other communications. It is co-sponsored by the University of Alaska, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and the Alaska Ocean Observing System. Armed with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and M.S. in Fisheries, Ben currently teaches chemistry, physical science, and oceanography at Juneau-Douglas High School.  His passion centers on the National Ocean Sciences Bowl and coaching his students to victory. Ben has coached a team from Juneau-Douglas High School to first place at the state level since 2007, the longest winning streak in the history of the Alaska Tsunami Bowl. Last year’s winning team, Team Pogonophoraphobia, placed third at the National Finals. Award was presented at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium.


Jacqueline Grebmeier and Lee Cooper received the Marine Research Award, sponsored by Drs. Clarence Pautzke and Maureen McCrea. This honor is given to a scientist, team of 
scientists, or an institution that is acknowledged by peers to have made an original breakthrough contribution to any field of scientific knowledge about Alaska’s oceans. Jacqueline and Lee have shown major leadership in Pacific Arctic marine research over the past several decades. Both conducted their Ph.D. work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and are now Research 
Professors at the University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science. Spending most of their summers at sea in Alaska’s arctic, both have participated in dozens of research cruises, many as chief scientists. Through involvement in high level national committees, strong management skills, and deep knowledge of the Pacific Arctic, they have provided important leadership in large research 

programs, such as BEST-BSIERP, the Pacific Arctic Marine Regional Synthesis, and the Distributed Biological Observatory. Award was presented at the 
Alaska Marine Science Symposium.



About the ASLC


Opened in 1998, the Alaska SeaLife Center operates as a private, non-profit research institution and public aquarium, with wildlife response and education programs. It generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. The ASLC is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. To learn more, visit


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