April 28, 2019 Tiburon California

The San Francisco Bay has been designated an international Hope Spot by Mission Blue’s Dr. Sylvia Earle today. The official announcement was made at the Estuary Ocean Science Center’s Annual Discovery Day Open House, presented by The Barbara & Richard Rosenberg Institute for Marine Biology & Environmental Science at the only marine research center on the San Francisco Bay, the Estuary & Ocean Science [EOS] Center at the Romberg Tiburon Campus. The theme this year is “Hope for the Bay” and the gathering of scientists and students offered the public an insight into the science and conservation efforts occurring inside the Bay.

In a recorded video played at the Discovery Day event, Dr. Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue she said, “San Francisco Bay is a place where so many people care– there are more than 7 million people in the Bay Area– that’s 7 million minds and hearts that can be directed to maintain the good things and to improve the things that are not so good. Not only for the Bay but for all of the people that live here now, and certainly far into the future. We have a chance, but that chance is slipping away unless we act now and set an example here in this beautiful city that can be something the world can look to and say, ‘If they can achieve it in a place with a high population, maybe we can do it elsewhere in the world.’”

During the event scientists and conservation group Shark Stewards and the MPA Collaborative shared their work in the Bay and some of the many reasons to be hopeful about the health of the Bay through talks and demonstrations.
“Despite a legacy of environmental degradation, San Francisco Bay is full of marine life thanks to the efforts of dedicated people who work to create, protect and restore natural habitats and improve water quality,” said Karina Nielsen, executive director of the EOS Center and a Hope Spot Champion. “However, the gains we’ve achieved remain vulnerable to climate change and other challenges. San Francisco Bay is a complex social and ecological system loved by many, but it’s also a challenging place to advance conservation efforts. We need a renewed focus on marine life conservation to protect the special place in San Francisco Bay providing refuge for marine life, especially its life-sustaining habitats and nurseries for young animals preparing for their ocean life.

Hope Spot

“California leads the way with marine protected areas (MPAs) along its outer coast, which focus on recovering marine fish and wildlife and conserving the extraordinary diversity of life along our coast. However, San Francisco Bay has been left largely unprotected in this regard. Looking to the future, stakeholders hope to enhance marine fish and wildlife conservation planning efforts for San Francisco Bay. This is the latest and perhaps greatest hope spot, “said Dr. Earle in a pre-recorded video played at the Center Sunday. A Hope Spot is ‘any special place that is critical to the health of the ocean’. Hope Spots are an initiative of the Sylvia Earle Alliance which is intended to engage and encourage public support and awareness of the oceans threats and need for protection.

San Francisco Bay is a hotspot for marine biodiversity, with more than 500 species of fish and wildlife, including migratory salmon, herring and anchovies. Since the 1960s, billions of dollars and many volunteer hours have been invested to restore the Bay’s ecological health. These efforts have started to pay off: Water quality has greatly improved, watersheds are healthier, tidal wetland restoration is underway and many marine animals are returning to the Bay.

“We have hope that we can continue the trend towards improved Bay health, recovering wildlife populations and the addition of marine protected areas that will benefit eelgrass, herring, sharks and other species in the Bay,’ said David McGuire, Director of Shark Stewards and co-chair of the California Marine Protected Area collaborative program. “We have protected 16% of State waters through our network of ecosystem-based managed marine protected areas. Like the coastal ocean we love, this magnificent estuary and its wildlife deserve better care.”

A Hope Spot is ‘any special place that is critical to the health of the ocean’. Hope Spots are an initiative of the Sylvia Earle Alliance which is intended to engage and encourage public support and awareness of the oceans threats and need for protection. The establishment of the San Francisco Bay Hope Spot aims to inspire a cohesive, integrated plan for ocean and marine life conservation. With the Bay Area’s conservation-minded populace and dedicated educational institutions, the framework is already in place to establish a cohesive plan to preserve the health of the Bay’s unique marine ecosystem for generations to come — we just have to take the plunge.