Mission Blue: Supporting a Global Network of Marine Protected Areas

Dr Sylvia Earle's full 2009 TED conference presentation

'I wish you would use all means at your disposal – films! expeditions! the web! more! – to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.' - Dr Sylvia Earle

In 2009, Dr Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence since 1998, first female chief scientist of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and ‘Living Legend’ according to the Library of Congress, launched Mission Blue after delivering the prize winning speech at the TED conference.

Mission Blue’s campaign revolves around the establishment of ‘Hope Spots’ – areas of the world’s oceans that have been designated as being especially valuable to the preservation of species, from the range of diversity a particular site displays or its significance as a home to endemic, rare or endangered species, or places where local communities rely on a healthy marine environment for their survival.

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Dr Earle inside her mini-submarine (Photo: Kip Evans)

Once the Hope Spots – which can be nominated by absolutely anybody, from individuals to corporations – are approved by the Mission Blue council, in partnership with the IUCN, work ensues with local populations, environmental organisations and governments to establish protection over and beyond that offered by Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in order to better preserve the habitats and ecosystems of the region.

At the time of Mission Blue’s launch, it was recognised that around 12 per cent of the Earth’s surface was currently established as ‘protected’ but less than 4 per cent of the oceans. As of 2017, there are currently 76 Hope Spots officially recognised with around 30 further locations currently nominated and under consideration by the council.

An associated 2015 Emmy Award winning documentary was produced to support the project and is currently available on Netflix, or to purchase from the Mission Blue Media store. More information about Dr Earle, Hope Spots and how to nominate them can be found on the Mission Blue website.


DIVE was lucky enough to spend some time with Dr Earle at this year's Cozumel Subafest, and the full interview will be published in our Autumn print edition, now available from all good news stands, or to order online from our shop. Click here to purchase a single copy, or click here to subscribe and never miss an issue.




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