Margaret “P.J.” Webb — a tireless Cambria advocate for the sea, shore, marine mammals, environment and women who need her help — will receive the first annual “Sea Star Panetta Award” from former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Her award is one of five that Panetta and former Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant will present Sunday, Sept. 22, during the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s ceremony in Marina.
Panetta championed the 1992 designation of the sanctuary, and was present at its dedication in San Simeon. He served as U.S. Representative for northern San Luis Obispo County to Santa Cruz. He eventually served nine terms from 1977 to 1993, until he went to Washington to fill various prestigious roles at the Pentagon level, including director of the CIA, White House chief of staff and budget director.
“Their amazing leadership in their respective fields is making significant impacts to furthering our mission to understand and protect the coastal ecosystem and cultural resources,” Sanctuary Superintendent Paul Michel said of the award recipients.
Webb’s environmental accomplishments cover a wide spectrum. She chaired the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council since 2014 to when she termed out in 2018, and has served as an at-large representative there since 2004.
She received a National Marine Sanctuaries Volunteer of the Year award in 2011 and the Bill Deneen Award in 2018.
“I do not work alone. I am always on a team, and it is the synergy of the team that makes movement happen,” Webb said when she learned about the latter honor. “I cannot think of a single action that I have taken in my activism where I was not standing in spirit or in person with others... The outpouring of love, support and strength of my colleagues is what makes this power of the people work.”
In June, Webb and indigenous leader Violet Sage Walker were invited to attend the Capitol Hill Ocean Week in Washington, D.C., and they spent their whirlwind time going from one legislator to the next, advocating for their causes.
The two women have been a driving force behind establishing the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary to protect shoreline waters in the gap between the Monterey Bay and Channel Islands sanctuaries. For details, go to https://chumashsanctuary.com/.
She has been a driving force behind protecting shoreline waters in the gap between the Monterey Bay and Channel Islands sanctuaries. She worked with the Marine Sanctuary Alliance to develop strategies to protect the Central Coast from offshore oil drilling and served as a liaison for the Marine Interest Group, a panel of countywide stakeholders collaborating on issues ranging from coastal business and tourism to water-quality concerns.
Webb also is known throughout the Central Coast for her advisory, outreach, education and rescue efforts on behalf of The Marine Mammal Center, Friends of the Elephant Seal, Coastal Discovery Center and the Women’s Community Center. She’s also a past president of the county’s Women Lawyers Association.
Webb practices public-interest law, focusing primarily on marine conservation, wildlife advocacy and women’s rights.
Other 2019 award recipients include: Research, John Ryan, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; resource protection, Lisa Emanuelson; education and outreach, Brian Nelson; and business and tourism, Cass Schrock, Monterey Bay Kayaks.