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:
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.