Friday, 13 November 2015

Tribute to the father of marine reserves Bill Ballantine

Bill Ballantine at the Cape Rodney – Okakari Point Marine Reserve, Leigh, Northland, NZ.
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Dr Bill Ballantine on November the 1st 2015. Bill was the pioneer of marine reserve protection in New Zealand and worldwide. 
As the first Director of the University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Laboratory, Bill contributed significantly to the creation of New Zealand’s first marine reserve at Leigh in 1975. These efforts ultimately led to the creation of more marine reserves throughout New Zealand and spawned an enormous body of scientific literature in New Zealand and worldwide based on research in marine reserves. 


Bill’s own research focussed on the rocky intertidal where he collected one of the longest existing time-series on intertidal reef communities. He also had the foresight to establish daily monitoring of sea surface temperature at Leigh, which continues nearly 50 years later and is providing important insights into climate change in our coastal oceans.
Bill became world famous for championing marine reserves, and continued to do so vigorously in his ‘retirement’. His 1991 book “Marine Reserves for New Zealand” grabbed the attention of policy makers and local communities alike, both in New Zealand and overseas. In 1996 he was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for work on marine conservation, and in 2002, Bill was awarded the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society Award for his continued outstanding contribution to marine science in New Zealand. Bill travelled to many countries, giving public lectures and running workshops, all focused on the key message that no-take marine reserves are a crucial tool for protecting marine biodiversity. Within New Zealand, he inspired NGO’s, local communities and schools to put forward proposals for marine reserves.
He was a great mentor and a dear friend for many students and marine conservation colleagues around the world who will miss him greatly. IUCN extends its condolences to Bill’s family and friends at this sad time. 
IUCN also thanks the members of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society Council for drawing together this tribute.
More information on Bill’s research and contribution is available on his website: 



Bill Ballantine at the Cape Rodney – Okakari Point Marine Reserve, Leigh, Northland, NZ.  This is New Zealand’s first marine reserve, established in 1975.  Photo: Kennedy Warne. 

Biography: Bill Ballantine
Born in Leicester, England, in 1937, he completed his PhD from Queen Mary College, University of London before emigrating to New Zealand in 1964.
1964 - Appointed first Director of the University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Laboratory.
2003 - Retired from University of Auckland. 
Honours and awards 
Bill received numerous New Zealand and international awards for his work on marine conservation, some being:
  • 1989 – Forest and Bird Protection Society Old Blue Award (also a Distinguished Life Member)
  • 1994 – Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to marine biology and conservation.
  • 1996 – Goldman Environmental Prize for work on marine conservation.
  • 2002 – Recipient of the NZMSS (New Zealand Marine Sciences Society) Award for continued outstanding contribution to marine science in New Zealand.
  • 2004 – Recipient of the Wyland - Foundation Dive New Zealand Magazine Recognition Award for being “the visionary for marine reserves”. 
  • 2006 – Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for public services.

Other links and media
This interview in 2008 featured in a local New Zealand newspaper contains information about Bill’s life and his vision for marine reserves.
The link below is of a recent radio interview with Bill (5 October 2015) on the recently announced Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary: 
And in 2009 at 30 min into this interview http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/1889898
More links below