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The Thor Heyerdahl International Maritime Environmental Award, supported by Gard, aims to encourage efforts to preserve the marine environment.

The ocean covers two thirds of the earth’s surface, provides food, energy and heat, is home to more living species than the land and sustains all form of life. In 1969 and 1970 Thor Heyerdahl sent the United Nations two reports on the pollution of the Atlantic Ocean. The reports were made on the basis of observations made during his expeditions with the RA I and RA II papyrus rafts, and were one of the elements that formed the background to the international community’s extensive efforts to improve the state of the ocean. In June 1999 the Thor Heyerdahl International Maritime Environmental Award was launched by Mr Heyerdahl and the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association. The purpose of the award is to:
– Contribute to an improvement of the global environment.
– Promote the environmental benefits of shipping as a method of transport to all sectors of society.
– Serve as an inspiration for implementing new, specific environmental measures.

Maritime transport appears to be the most environmentally friendly method of transport, generating only a minor proportion of the total marine pollution. But heightened environmental standards in the shipping industry will be an important contribution to an improvement of the conditions of the oceans. Shipping therefore has a special responsibility for the marine environment, and it is hoped that the award will inspire the maritime community world-wide to make an effort to improve that environment.

The award is granted every two years, and will next be given in 2007. Gard, as one of the supporters of the award, is helping to encourage companies and individuals to enter.

How to qualify for the Award?
To qualify for the award candidates must have created a significant benefit for the marine environment, for example by:
– Carrying out, or helping to carry out, new environmental measures in their own operations over and above any imposed by any government agency.
– Developing new environmental measures that are feasible/financially sustainable. This will particularly include measures that combine the interest of the environment with improved profitability.

In 2001 the award was won by The Green Award Foundation, and in 2003 by the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF). The 2005 award was given to NYK Line on 19th May 2005 in Tokyo, Japan. The Japanese company’s focus on environmental issues was triggered by an oil spill from one of their vessels in Tokyo Bay about eight years ago. Since that time they have worked hard to improve their performance, and the award recognised their remarkable commitment to the continuous improvement of its environmental performance.

More information about the award can be found at www.heyerdahlaward.com.

Any comments to this article can be e-mailed to the Gard News Editor.

Gard News is published quarterly by Gard AS, Arendal, Norway.