The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation lauds the Hawaii congressman’s stewardship.

A award previously given to two presidents, a First Lady and two U.S. senators has now been bestowed upon a U.S. representative from Hawaii.

U.S. Congressman Ed Case was recently awarded the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s 2023 Leadership Award at the annual Capitol Hill Ocean Week gala. Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, was also honored.

The foundation, according to a press release from Case’s office, honors political leaders who demonstrate a commitment to ocean, coastal and Great Lakes stewardship.”

Case was an early advocate for “and was instrumental” in the designation of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in 2006 and current efforts to expand protections for the Pacific Remote Islands.

Sol Kahoohalahala, Rep. Ed Case, Rep. Raúl Grijalva and William Aila at the Capitol Hill Ocean Week gala. (Courtesy National Marine Sanctuary Foundation/2023)

Case, who is a member of the House Appropriations and Natural Resources Committees, is also credited by the foundation for co-leading reauthorization of the Coral Reef Conservation Program.

The press release said Case “continues to fight for ocean-based climate solutions, sustainable climate ready fisheries management, and international cooperation and coordination in saving our world’s oceans.”

“While I was truly honored to have received this award, it is just a moment in time when compared to the critical threats that face our oceans across a number of fronts,” said Case. “I am mostly just grateful to be part of a community of true passion who cares so deeply for our oceans and are so personally committed to saving them from what has become their worst enemy: humankind.”

Previous awardees include former President Bill Clinton, former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R, Alaska) and current Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D, Rhode Island).

Also at the gala, two other Hawaii residents — Sol Kahoohalahala and William Aila — received the foundation’s Sanctuary Wavemaker Award “for their critical work” benefiting national marine sanctuaries.

Kahoohalahala serves as chair of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. He and Aila, a former chair of the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources, are members of the Pacific Remote Islands Coalition.

For more on that read The Civil Beat Editorial Board Interview: The Pacific Remote Islands Coalition.

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