Senior Scientist, Peru
Patricia was born and grew up in Lima, Peru, in a house full of books, a few blocks away from the ocean. Her parents, both child psychiatrists, figured out from very early on Patricia’s future as a scientist and gently pushed her in that direction. She obtained a degree in in Biology in 1980 and completed a PhD in Zoology at the University of Cambridge UK in 1988.
Since 1982, Patricia has directed the longest running private conservation and research program in coastal Peru. She started off studying the ecology and reproduction of fur seals but soon turned her attention to conservation issues affecting her study of animals, assessing the impacts of El Niño and fisheries on the fur seals and other marine wildlife populations. From her early days in the field she has almost singly led marine conservation efforts in Peru, successfully promoting the establishment of the first Marine Protected Area System in Peru (and South America) in 2009 and developing nationwide awareness of the large-scale ecosystemic and socio-economic impacts of the anchoveta (Peruvian anchovy) fishery, the largest single species fishery in the world, by weight.
Patricia’s most successful initiative, the Anchoveta Week, catalyzed a nation-wide increase in direct consumption of this fish, which, until recently was only used to produce fishmeal and oil and exported as feed for the aquaculture and animal production industries. Since then, anchovetas have become a strategic component in the Peruvian Government’s food aid and food security initiatives.
She briefly served as Vice-President of the Board of the Peruvian Marine Research Institute (IMARPE) in 2011 and as Vice-Minister of Fisheries in 2012, not leaving before raising national attention to the systemic corruption of the Fisheries Sector in Peru. She founded and directed the Center for Environmental Sustainability at the Cayetano Heredia University in Lima from 2006-2015, leading efforts to create a sustainable seafood movement with local chefs and restaurants and building awareness of the current global oceans crisis.
For her work in marine conservation she has obtained the Charlotte Wyman Award for Women in Conservation, the Lindbergh Award, the Whitley Gold Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Marlin Perkins’ Conservation Award, the Distinguished Service Award of the Society for Conservation Biology, the BBVA Foundation Award for Biodiversity Conservation Projects in Latin America, the Pew Marine Fellowship and the Summum Award for Sustainability.