It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Dr Bill Ballantine. 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 focused 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