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Irma Brady awarded 2016 Seacology Prize

October 13, 2016

Before an audience of more than 100 Seacology supporters, staff, and Board members, Irma Brady of Honduras accepted the 2016 Seacology Prize last Thursday night. Recounting her early years on Honduras’ Bay Islands and her decades-long career in conservation, Brady thanked her family, her colleagues in the Honduran NGO community, and her hosts for setting her on the path to a career in environmental stewardship and for the unexpected recognition.

In an especially moving moment, Brady dedicated her award in part to Blanca Jeannette Kawas, a friend and fellow conservation activist who was murdered in 1995, a crime that has never been solved. Brady described it as a pivotal moment in her journey.

“When the environmental movement of Honduras traveled to Tela to Jeanette’s funeral, all the fears that I ever had, just disappeared,” Brady said. “I clearly understood, that when a price is put on your head there’s no way out, so I choose to live and work without fear.”

And work fearlessly she has. In nearly three decades of activism, Brady has been vastly important in the Honduran conservation movement. As the tourism industry has set off a wave of development and population growth on the once-sleepy Bay Islands, she and her colleagues have been there to make sure stewardship of local habitats remains a priority. The Bay Islands Conservation Organization, which she co-founded, is now influential on all three of the major islands. Roatan’s coral reefs are among the healthiest in the Mesoameraican Barrier Reef region, and forests once damaged by unrestricted burning and hunting are now part of well-regulated parks.

Brady concluded her remarks by urging others to follow in her footsteps, to strive for protection of threatened natural resources, and to raise consciousness about the need to integrate sustainability with development.

“We remain confident that although changes in attitudes are a slow process, they are occurring,” she said. “People are becoming aware of our planet’s problems, more concerned and involved. We remain hopeful that sooner rather than later, governments around the world will accept that economic interests are not more important than the environment, that a balance is a must.”

“I encourage you to continue to support environmental organizations in your communities as well as abroad. We need your continued help and support to maintain the quality of life on our planet.”

We couldn’t be more proud of this year’s prize winner, and we echo her sentiments. We encourage our supporters and donors to visit the islands of Roatán, Utila, and Guanaja to see for themselves the real impact Irma Brady and other conservationists have made there.

If you missed the Prize Ceremony, we invite you to watch the video of Brady’s acceptance speech and the brief documentary we produced to introduce her to our audience. We also have many photos of the event now up on our Facebook page. We invite you to tag yourself if you were there!

We join Brady in thanking Seacology co-founder Ken Murdock for underwriting the Seacology Prize.