Hope Spots for the Oceans - Why We Like Mission Blue
July 16, 2015.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, beaches are one of the top five destinations for leisure travel in the United States. For many of us, there is nothing as relaxing as spending a day with sand between our toes, surfing, fishing, birdwatching or just enjoying the sun and sounds of the ocean.
But under the surface our oceans are under significant pressure: from algae blooms, to over fishing, to invasive species explosions, and now climate change, our oceans are being stressed.
But there is hope! Thanks to an organization called, Mission Blue, we are now thinking on a massive scale to protect entire ecosystems. Mission Blue works to create “Hope Spots,” which are areas throughout the ocean they believe “are critical to the health of the ocean – Earth’s blue heart.” The goal is to turn as many of them into Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as possible.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), MPAs are “a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.”
Although less than 3% of our oceans are protected today, Mission Blue hopes to protect 20% by 2020. Some Hope Spots are already official MPAs and the over time they represent an ingenious step-wise approach to accelerate ecosystem protection.
Mission Blue is an initiative of the Sylvia Earle Alliance, and the vision of its founder Dr. Sylvia Earle. Dr. Earle is a popular marine biologist, the former chief scientist at NOAA, and explorer-in-residence at National Geographic. She was also the first person to be named “Hero for the Planet” by Time Magazine in 1998.
The goal of her organization is to educate people and partner with organizations to spread the word about the need to protect our oceans. Mission Blue is working to create many more MPAs and Hope Spots. Not only will corals, invertebrates, fish, and marine mammals in these specific protected areas benefit, but the ecosystems around them will see benefits as well. As there are no natural boarders in the ocean, marine organisms from protected areas can travel to surrounding areas by currents and natural movement. Introducing these species to their surrounding ecosystems will support biodiversity and build greater resilience to the effects of climate change.
At the ClimateStore, we’re big fans of Mission Blue. We’re also committed to stewardship and believe in the power of personal action. There are many ways we can help realize Dr. Earle’s dream of saving our amazing oceans. Mission Blue has 5 actionable steps you can take right now, you can also check our Easy Steps page to find quick tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint.
As Dr. Earle said, “I have lots of heroes — anyone and everyone who does whatever they can to leave the natural world better than they found it.”
We couldn’t agree more.