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September 9, 2016

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Citizens of the Blue Planet Have Spoken: 14 New Places in the Ocean, Vetted by IUCN and Mission Blue, Will Now Serve as a Flashpoint to Ignite Global Support for Marine Protection

Over the past year, citizens and organizations across the planet have nominated marine environments especially deserving of protection – known as Hope Spots – for review by Mission Blue and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). After rigorous scientific vetting and policy analysis, Mission Blue and IUCN are proud to announce the names of 14 new Hope Spots, which came directly from a concerned global community calling out for more ocean protection. By allowing citizens to elect their own Hope Spots, Mission Blue and IUCN hope to meet the goal of igniting broad public support for a global network of marine protected areas large enough to protect and restore the ocean’s health.

The 14 new Hope Spots were evaluated and accepted by the joint Mission Blue/IUCN Hope Spots Council on the 7th of September and announced today by the celebrated Dr. Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, and Carl Gustaf Lundin, IUCN’s Director of the Global Marine and Polar programme. The locations of these 14 Hope Spots are listed below and are included on the Hope Spots map:

  1. Coastal Southeast Florida
  2. Cozumel Reef
  3. East Portland Fish Sanctuary
  4. Egg Island, Bahamas
  5. Gardens of the Queen
  6. George Town Harbor, Grand Cayman
  7. Hatteras
  8. Hecate Strait & Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reef
  9. Malpelo Island
  10. Monterey Bay
  11. Moreton Bay
  12. Mosquito Lagoon, Florida
  13. Saint Vincent & the Grenadines Marine Area
  14. Tropical Pacific Sea of Peru

Dr. Earle lauds the Hope Spot nomination program as a way to “encourage people to take responsibility and ownership of their environment. The ocean is in trouble, but you can do something about it. Join us as a global community to become leaders towards this common goal. We want people to own their ocean and for Hope Spots to become a shared vision.”

The new Hope Spot nomination process allows anyone from anywhere to nominate a marine site special to them and is unique to the conservation world. For the first time, the global community can have a direct say in the protection of marine conservation by simply visiting MissionBlue.org/hope-spots and filling out an application.

Technology partners are helping broadcast these Hope Spots to billions across the globe. For seven years, Google has been an essential supporter of Mission Blue and has shared Mission Blue’s ocean conservation content. Now at the unveiling of this first-ever public forum for nominating Hope Spots, Mission Blue and IUCN are proud to have the continuing support of Google through the ongoing integration of Hope Spots into its platform, which will feature rich multimedia experiences in Hope Spots around the world, taking users from their desktops and mobile phones and plunging them under the waves to explore, understand and appreciate the great living systems in the sea.

Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean – Earth’s blue heart. While about 12 percent of terrestrial regions are currently under some form of protection (as national parks, etc.), less than four percent of the ocean is protected in any way, leaving it vulnerable to overfishing, pollution and over-exploitation. Hope Spots are often areas that need new protection, but they can also be existing MPAs where more action is needed. Through this framework, Mission Blue and IUCN are recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to plan for the future and look beyond current marine protected areas (MPAs). Dr. Sylvia Earle introduced the concept in her 2009 TED talk and since then the idea has inspired millions with support from National Geographic and Rolex.

The partnership between Mission Blue and IUCN on Hope Spots has great implications for community-sponsored conservation. As Mr. Lundin says, it will “empower people to protect themselves and is a chance to be heard,” to which Dr. Earle adds, “the partnership between IUCN and Mission Blue is a solution to the serious problems facing the ocean.”

The new Hope Spots were selected for the exceptional richness of the sites themselves, as well as the inspiring dynamism of their nominators. The university group who nominated Hope Spot Hatteras in North Carolina, for example, have sparked widespread awareness for their site, which has unique geological features on the East Coast of the US. One co-nominator of Hatteras says, “We must invest in the health of our oceans and its ecosystems like that of Cape Hatteras, and serve as ambassadors for the systems that sustain us… a small group of individuals can enact change and that’s just what we intend to do!”

There are now a total of 76 Hope Spots around the world with more to come.

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21 Comments

  • Tracy Adams says:

    We have a spot very near and dear to our heart on Maui that really needs protection. About a year ago, USGS took a coral core sample from a very large coral in Olowalu and aged it back to 1791, which turns out to be the oldest living coral ever measured in the main Hawaiian Islands. This coral was referred to as “Big Mama” and could be seen from Google Earth satellite imagery. The sad thing is this coral is now dead. So after 225 years , witnessing Hawaii transition from the Kingdom rule of Kamehameha I, to the arrival of the missionaries, the plantation years, the first telephone, combustion engine, the overthrow, Statehood, two world wars, the great tsunami of 1946, hurricane Iwa 1982 and hurricane Iniki in 1992, this coral is now dead, on our watch. If this isn’t telling of threats our reefs are facing, I don’t know what is.

  • Danielle tippo says:

    Number 11 Moreton bay Australia please, I have visited and the magic needs to remain in one day you can see manta rays turtles and humpback whales, its just across from Stradbroke island, and would have a wonderful effect on both islands and so many marine animals and their home.

  • Anne Stokes Hochberg says:

    I would love for there to be an interactive map, to click on a spot and learn about it. Maybe it’s on another website?

  • Oswaldo Serna Fernández says:

    EXCELENTE!!! PROTEJAMOS NUESTRA BIODIVERSIDAD.

  • Thomas Daniel says:

    Thanks for all you do. You and your organization have done so much to bring awareness to those that wouldn’t have given the plight of our oceans a second thought, and believe me they are in the billions. The term “shark infested” is frequently misused since they are necessary for the health of the ocean ecosystem and infestation implies a pest or noxious organism, sort of like humans have become. Even when they aren’t destroying something their structures ruin the environment and the landscape. Sounds like an infestation to me. So these hope spots are more important than just a dot on a map, they are really the hope that it’s not too late to reverse the damage we’ve done and to protect what’s left. Keep up your important and excellent work Dr. Earl, the earth and the people of earth need you and more like you. A Happy late birthday wish to you also. P.S. I am from Hawaii and now live in Monterey county California, both of which are on the list I think, so what you do affects me and my family (some still in Hawaii) personally.

    • Shilpi Chhotray says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment Thomas! We recently posted on the IUCN World Conservation Congress on our social media platforms if you’d like to see the latest from Hawaii.

  • Dear, splash school management need to talk to an officer from mission blue for station, oceans and saya de malha banks, what is being done to exterminate of life and mainly human freedom to knowledge and be informed.
    Hope to hear from u guys soon.
    Best regards
    Amiral Joseph
    +23058862800 sailors sleep one eye open

  • Alan Bundy says:

    Hello,
    This sounds so terribly nice! I just want to comment that I wish there was a spot in the Great Lakes somewhere that could be designated like this. Perhaps that’s not, because its not oceans, what you are trying to do, but I wonder if the Alliance for the Great Lakes might be involved in this? I recently read of an attempt to re-introduce the Alligator Gar-a prehistoric fish who was decimated in many places, into the areas that are at risk of the Asian Carp-in hopes they could control it? They’re not sure it will work.
    A local Organic Lawn company leaves its sign on lawns it treats, and it occurred to me that (I’m in Cleveland, Ohio), a lawn sign that read LAKE ERIE SAFE LAWN, would be a good thing to sell, indicating to people that this lawn does not harm the local body of water it is near. You could also have MEDITTERANEAN SEA SAFE LAWN, or whatever anywhere in the world. The Ohio EPA wanted to promote this idea. Could you perhaps, promote it? Even one photograph online of a sign like this might help inspire others to make local signs like this protecting their nearby creek, stream, river, lake, or ocean. Let me know what you think?
    Alan Bundy

    • Shilpi Chhotray says:

      Hi Alan, good news, if you (or the Alliance for the Great Lakes) submit a thorough proposal justifying a Great Lakes area as a Hope Spot, the council will consider it. Thanks for your feedback!

  • Gail Lockman says:

    I hear the waters around Cuba have pristine Coral habitats. What is being done to regulate and monitor cruise ships that will be traveling to Cuba in the near future?

    • Shilpi Chhotray says:

      Hi Gail, we could connect you with one of our partners who works closely with the waters in Cuba. Let me know if you’d like to get in touch. Thanks!

  • Marcela says:

    When and how do Hope Spots become officially preserved areas by law, therefore no kind of fishing and other human interference can occur?
    Your work is amazing! Congratulations!

    • Shilpi Chhotray says:

      Thanks Marcela! For a Hope Spot that is not legally safeguarded as a marine protected area (MPA) to become so, local stakeholders need to lobby/petition their government to regulate activities that threaten the ecosystem, such as fishing and mining. While about 12 percent of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks etc.), less than four percent of the ocean is protected in any way. Hope Spots allow us to plan for the future and look beyond current marine protected areas (MPAs). Hope Spots are often areas that need new protection, but they can also be existing MPAs where more action is needed.

  • Roy Mulder says:

    Thank you for your work to create a healthier ocean that is in dire need of more protections. I am very interested in seeing if it is possible to catalyze more like minded ocean loving souls.
    Who is the connection at Mission Blue for organizations (as opposed to individuals) interested in supporting Hope Sites?
    Would Mission Blue consider supporting other organizations campaigns to overlap with Hope Sites?
    I am involved with several marine conservation organizations currently engaged in creating marine sanctuaries both in Canada and globally. It would be wonderful if we could strategize a way to support each other in a unified effort to create protections globally.

  • edgar flores says:

    Awesome 🙂

  • Andrew Scoon says:

    Nothing else to say but thank you, and well done!!

    Is there anything in the uk I can get involved in!?

    • Shilpi Chhotray says:

      Thanks Andrew! Sharing news about Hope Spots is a huge help, you can visit our social media channels and website to get the latest information.

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"With knowing comes caring." - Dr. Sylvia Earle