Each year, the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography honors an aquatic scientist whose research leads to the identification, analysis, or solution of important environmental problems with the Ruth Patrick Award. The 2022 Ruth Patrick Award will be presented to Dr. Nenibarini Zabbey, Professor of Hydrobiology in the Department of Fisheries at the University of Port Harcourt, for research and engagement with a critical impact on recovery of the Niger Delta ecosystem from oil spills and environmental justice for affected communities. The award will be presented to Dr. Zabbey at the 2022 Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA in May.
Dr. Zabbey is an accomplished hydrobiologist who has demonstrated a unique combination of scientific skill, endurance, and academic excellence that has been applied for environmental justice. His research focuses broadly on benthic and restoration ecology of aquatic ecosystems. He also has experience in teaching and consultancy work in environmental assessment and management. In addition, he is also passionate about engaging local communities in his work.
Dr. Zabbey’s research extends far beyond the academic sphere. Zabbey serves as the coordinator of the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), a leading human rights and environmental non-governmental organization in Nigeria. In 2008 and 2009, over 15,000 residents of Bodo and four abutting Ogoniland coastal communities in the Niger Delta were seriously impacted by two major oil spills that occurred in the Bodo Creek. Through his studies, Dr. Zabbey provided valuable baseline data and facilitates the world's largest mangrove clean up and remediation project. It greatly aided the recovery effort for the population of people that depend on the creek for their livelihood. Prior to the oil pollution at Bodo and post spill, he built and published valuable ecological datasets of intertidal macrozoobenthos (animals >0.5mm that live in or on sediment) in the Bodo Creek.
ASLO President, Roxane Maranger notes, “Dr. Zabbey represents the upmost courage one could expect in a researcher. Committed to justice based on hard scientific evidence and service to community, his work was critical in resolving a landmark litigation case with Shell on the consequences of oil spills on the livelihoods of people who depend on Bodo Creek. His research and publications continue to serve as a global baseline for the cleanup, remediation, and monitoring of the area. Engaged strongly with community, he is spearheading one of the largest mangrove restoration projects in the world. We are pleased to present this year’s Ruth Patrick Award to Dr. Zabbey in recognition of his tireless efforts using science to address social issues.”