Richard Kenchington

Emeritus Professor 2022

Citation delivered by Professor Theo Farrell, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (academic and student life) at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Richard Ambrose Kenchington as an Emeritus Professor of the University on 2 May 2022.

Deputy Chancellor, I present Professor Richard Ambrose Kenchington.

A passionate educator and world-renowned expert and advocate for the protection and sustainable management of marine environments and resources, Richard Kenchington has been a pioneer in the field of marine and coastal environment research and management. Richard’s life-long commitment to our oceans has seen him play a number of key roles in Australian ocean affairs. Richard’s vast contributions to international scholarship, policy and teaching have been both highly impactful and extensively cited.

Richard has had a distinguished career as a marine biologist and administrator, beginning in 1972 when he worked with navy clearance divers to survey reefs for the crown of thorns starfish. Instrumental in the establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Richard was a foundation staff member from 1975, shortly after its inception, until retiring as Executive Director in 1999. He was director of the planning team for the initial declaration and zoning of the Marine Park as well as drafting the UNESCO nomination of the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Area. Richard’s tenure saw the Authority grow from a small and largely experimental regulatory body, to being a world-wide respected environmental management agency – the first true large marine park in the world.

Following the initial zoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park he worked with international and regional agencies and governments to establish the International Coral Reef Initiative and associated International Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management Symposia. Richard was also crucial in having the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and Coral Sea listed as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area, which was the very first to be approved by the International Maritime Organization. This listing further ensured additional protection to these areas of special significance. It remains one of only 15 such areas worldwide to this day.

Richard’s team was the architect of the marine spatial planning system, integral to the operation and management of zoned multiple use marine protected areas. This was the first use of these systems in the world and they now represent the standard approach to marine park management worldwide. His subsequent book describing the operation of such systems is still regularly cited 30 years after its publication.

Richard has had a long engagement as an invited expert and consultant in international policy development and capacity building for sustainable management of coastal and marine biodiversity and resources. He was a UOW Honorary Visiting Professor from 2000-2010, and came to work at UOW when others would have retired. Joining UOW’s Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources & Security (ANCORS) in 2010, Richard contributed to research and teaching at UOW for a decade before retiring in 2020.

As Secretary to ANCORS Advisory Board, throughout his time at UOW, Richard’s professional reputation was known by all of the Board members. He was an important and respected peer in that role. Richard was a tremendous mentor, his reputation attracting international scholars to ANCORS. He was particularly effective in providing guidance to some of our most promising academics, guiding them in establishing their own international reputations. His knowledge and experience brought a strong ecological perspective to his teaching and research in marine and coastal governance, planning, management, marine ecology and conservation.

Richard was part of the core research team in the Keystone 'Blue Futures' Project. This project aimed to use innovative, integrated and cross-sectoral research to promote a sustainable development model to maximise the social, environmental, and economic benefits derived from the oceans. It positioned the NSW South Coast as a national leader in the development of blue economies, drawing on ocean and coastal resources for economic development in an ecologically and economically sustainable way. It has placed UOW and Global Challenges at the forefront of global research in the field of Blue Economies.

Deputy Chancellor, Richard has continued working with UOW from a deep commitment to the sustainable and effective management of the world’s oceans, and the value of education and research to attain that goal. He has given generously and selflessly to the University over the past two decades and remains committed to the University’s values. He is a tireless advocate who has worked and will continue to do so, which is what makes Richard so very worthy of this award today.

It is a privilege to present Professor Richard Ambrose Kenchington to be admitted as an Emeritus Professor of the University of Wollongong.