It’s with great pleasure that we report that Mark Simmonds has been awarded the Order of British Empire (OBE) ‘for services to environmental science and marine mammal conservation’.
Mark served as International Director of Science for WDC for some 17 years and all at WDC pass on their congratulations for this well deserved recognition. Not only does Mark remain a collegaue in our work to protect whales and dolphins but he is also a personal friend to many of us.
On a personal level I would like to say that Mark’s contribution to whale and dolphin conservation and protection is unmeasureable. His committment and passion for these remarkable creatures has helped WDC achieve many of our most successful campaigns. He remains a close colleague and friend and I am proud that he has been recognised in this way.
Well done Mark on this richly deserved award.
The following is Mark’s reaction to the announcement:
“It is deeply gratifying that the value of marine conservation has been recognised in this unexpected way in the Queen’s 2013 Birthday Honours.
For the greater part of my career it has been my privilege to have focused on marine wildlife and particularly whales, dolphins and porpoises. These are animals that the British public undoubtedly love but trying to improve the situation of these splendid and inspiring animals in the increasingly busy seas of our planet remains very much an uphill struggle. The good news is that chemical and noise pollution, which are important threats to marine wildlife, are now widely recognised as such (it was not always this way). Equally positively, the global moratorium on commercial whaling remains in place, despite many attempts to displace it. If it was not there, whale-killing would certainly expand.
I continue to feel passionate about improving the protection of marine wildlife. However, just as it ‘takes a village to raise a child’, it also takes a village to have an impact in the conservation field; and an award like this recognises a whole network of people. Without the necessary funds, the strategic advice and the support of friends and colleagues, nothing would be achieved. I am delighted that WDC is recognised in the citation for the award, I have spent the better part of the last two decades working with them, and I continue to work closely with this very special and important charity. My ‘village’ also includes other ‘whale champions’. It was the Environmental Investigation Agency that sent me to my first meeting of the IWC in 1994 (I have not missed an annual meeting since). Before this, Greenpeace International started to involve me in the work of the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS) in the early 1990s. In the intervening years CMS has generated a series of regional agreements for whales and dolphins.
Also at the heart of my ‘village’ is the Humane Society International which continues to champion the ongoing battles against the mistreatment of animals around the world. Other core ‘village people’ can be found at the Animal Welfare Institute, WSPA, Campaign Whale, the Wildlife and Countryside Link Whale Working Group, the UK’s ‘Whale Team’ and strandings rescue and investigation networks and my friends within the IGOs. (You know who you are!).
I know that the awarding of an OBE requires a lot of solid support, so thank you for placing me in a position to attract this honour. I accept it for the work of the ‘village’. Finally, I am grateful that my mum and the rest of my family who must have wondered about my unconventional career from time to time and who have had to tolerate many often long absences, will know that other people thought it was worthwhile too.