Peruvian Kerstin Forsberg, Founder of Planeta Océano (a Non-Governmental Organization), received the Whitley Award yesterday at the Royal Geographical Society, London at a Ceremony in front of 500 guests for her work with local communities to protect threatened wildlife and their habitat around the globe.
“Kerstin’s passion for the environment began as a child and later saw her working with sea turtles as an undergraduate biology student. In 2011, she became involved in manta ray conservation in Peru, working with local fishers and volunteers to study and conserve these marine titans.”, a press release of the Whitley Fund for Nature explained.
Manta rays in Peru and Ecuador are some of the largest in the world. Nevertheless, they have very low reproduction rates and are at risk of extinction.
“For the first time in Peru, fishers are being supported by Planeta Océano to develop responsible manta ecotourism.” Instead of catching the mantas, they are being released, since people have realized they are worth much more alive.
Kerstin NGO Planeta Océano has gained legal protection for giant manta rays in Peru. She works against threats these animals receive and to reduce accidental bycatch. In order to do so, fishermen are given technical and financial support to benefit from ecotourism.
Edward Whitley, Founder of the Whitley Fund for Nature, said that “Kerstin’s commitment to marine conservation has helped mobilize action to ensure that giant manta rays persist in our oceans, and is using her entrepreneurial spirit to demonstrate they are worth more alive. We are especially pleased to be recognizing Kerstin, as part of our 25th anniversary, and wish her every success.”, you can read in the press release.