Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, the environment and energy minister of Costa Rica, received the first annual Global Ocean Conservation Award this week from six organizations promoting marine conservation.

Rodriguez, 45, was honored on World Ocean Day for his work in the past year advancing the global marine conservation agenda. The six groups presenting the award at the National Press Club were Conservation International, IUCN-The World Conservation Union, the Marine Conservation Biology Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Ocean Revolution, and the World Wildlife Fund.

The Global Ocean Conservation Award is given annually on World Ocean Day (June 8) to an individual who makes globally significant contributions in ocean use planning, marine conservation communications, ocean governance, coastal zone management, ecosystem restoration, fisheries reform and/or the advancement of ocean science in poorly known ecosystems.

Rodriguez is the first winner. In 2004, he expanded Costa Rica's Las Baulas National Marine Park and facilitated the signing of the "San Jose Declaration" by his government, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador that set up multinational management and conservation in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape (ETPS). The marine mega-corridor includes two World Heritage Sites - the Galapagos Archipelago of Ecuador and Cocos Island of Costa Rica - and two proposed sites for World Heritage status.

"The ocean as a living system can not realistically be viewed in terms of political boundaries drawn on maps," Rodriguez said. "Healthy ecosystems and productive ocean industries will only be maintained through a holistic view of ocean management based on cooperation among States to address issues on the scale of large marine ecosystems."