Hope spots, vital to the health of the ocean

Maintaining the health of the planet’s largest body of water may start with thinking small. Mission Blue is a global initiative to create marine sanctuaries by identifying what are called hope spots, specific areas that are vital to the health of the ocean.

TRANSCRIPT

MAINTAINING THE HEALTH OF THE PLANET'S LARGEST BODY OF WATER MAY START WITH THINKING SMALL.

MISSION BLUE IS A GLOBAL INITIATIVE TO CREATE MARINE SANCTUARIES BY IDENTIFYING WHAT ARE CALLED HOPE SPOTS -- SPECIFIC AREAS THAT ARE VITAL TO THE HEALTH OF THE OCEAN.

TAKE A LOOK.

DR. SYLVIA EARLE HAS BEEN EXPLORING THE OCEANS FOR OVER 50 YEARS.

SHE'S SERVED IN MANY CAPACITIES, INCLUDING CHIEF SCIENTIST FOR THE NATIONAL OCEANOGRAPHIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION AND FOUNDER OF THE DEEP OCEAN EXPLORATION AND RESEARCH, INCORPORATED.

SOMETIMES, I TELL PEOPLE THAT I COME FROM A DIFFERENT PLANET.

[ LAUGHS ] AND MY FRIENDS SAY, 'WELL, WE KNEW THAT.'

[ LAUGHS ] 'JUST BASED ON YOU'RE SO STRANGE.'

BUT, REALLY, THE FACT IS THAT I DID COME FROM A PLANET THAT WAS SO DIFFERENT FROM WHAT THE PLANET IS LIKE TODAY THAT IT SEEMED AS IF IT MAY HAVE BEEN SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN EARTH.

SHE HAS BEEN A WITNESS TO CHANGES IN THE OCEANS NO ONE THOUGHT POSSIBLE FIVE DECADES AGO.

WHEN I BEGAN DIVING, PEOPLE THOUGHT THAT SHARKS WERE TO BE FEARED, AND THEY SAID, 'LOOK OUT FOR THE MAN-EATERS.'

AT FIRST, I TOOK THAT TO HEART.

THEN I REALIZED THAT I DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MAN-EATERS.

NOW WE HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MAN EATING SHARKS.

WE HAVE TAKEN SO MANY BITES OUT OF SHARKS THAT THEIR NUMBERS ARE DOWN BY ON THE ORDER OF 90% OF MANY OF THE SPECIES THAT ONCE -- AGAIN, THE PLANET THAT I CAME FROM WAS BLESSED WITH LARGE NUMBERS OF SHARKS AND SWORDFISH AND TUNA, GROUPERS AND SNAPPERS AND COD AND HERRING AND OCTOPUS AND SQUIDS -- NOW GREATLY DEPLETED.

THE DRASTIC PRESSURES ON OUR OCEAN HAVE LED SYLVIA TO GO BEYOND RESEARCH TO ADVOCATE FOR RENEWAL AND SUSTAINABILITY.

THERE'S A GREAT SENSE OF URGENCY ABOUT GETTING PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND WHY THE OCEAN MATTERS TO THEM, EVEN IF THEY'VE NEVER THE OCEAN, LET ALONE TOUCHED THE OCEAN, TO REALIZE THAT THE OCEAN TOUCHES EVERYONE EVERYWHERE EVERY DAY.

WITH EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE, YOU'RE CONNECTED TO THE OCEAN.

ONE AREA OF CONCERN IS SUSTAINABLE FISHING POLICIES.

WE TREAT FISH AS IF THEY ARE INFINITE IN THEIR CAPACITY TO RECOVER.

[ CHUCKLES ] SUSTAINABLE FISHING -- I MEAN, IT'S A VISION, IT'S A DREAM, BUT I HAVE YET TO SEE REALITY IN ACTION.

IT'S CHOICE THAT WE ARE BASING OUR POLICIES ON.

WE WANT THE CHOICE OF BEING ABLE TO EAT WILDLIFE THAT MAY TAKE 10 OR 30 OR 50 YEARS TO GROW THAT WE CAN CONSUME IN 10 OR 15 OR 50 MINUTES.

FOR OCEAN POPULATIONS TO REBOUND, CHANGES NEED TO BE MADE.

WE NEED TO RETHINK OUR LAWS, OUR POLICIES, AND OUR CHOICES, BASED ON WHAT WE NOW KNOW, BECAUSE IT MATTERS TO THE OCEAN.

IT MATTERS TO US, TO A PLANET THAT WORKS IN OUR FAVOR.

ONE OF HER LATEST EFFORTS IS THE CREATION OF MISSION BLUE.

THIS INITIATIVE IS DESIGNED TO INSPIRE PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR HOPE SPOTS, PLACES THAT ARE VITAL TO THE HEALTH OF THE OCEANS.

ONE ACTION SOLUTION THAT ALL OF US CAN GET BEHIND IS THE CONCEPT OF REALLY EMBRACING SPECIAL PLACES IN THE OCEAN, JUST AS THE UNITED STATES BEGAN EMBRACING THE LAND AS NATIONAL PARKS.

HER FOCUS ON MARINE SANCTUARIES LANDED HER ON A PANEL DISCUSSION ABOUT PROTECTED AREAS AT THE BLUE OCEAN FILM FESTIVAL IN ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA.

WE HAVE A SYSTEM OF NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARIES.

IT BEGAN IN THE 1970s.

IT'S A GREAT IDEA, BUT IT NEEDS TO GROW.

GLOBALLY, ABOUT 3% OF THE OCEAN HAS SOME FORM OF PROTECTION -- CONSCIOUS ACTION TO HAVE POLICIES THAT WILL PROTECT PARTS OF THE OCEAN -- BUT A FRACTION OF 1% OF FULLY PROTECTED AREAS, WHERE EVEN THE FISH HAVE SAFE HAVENS.

WHAT A CONCEPT.

THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARIES, DAN BASTA, MODERATED THE DISCUSSION.

WE WANT TO CHANGE THE CONVERSATION IN THIS COUNTRY ON MARINE CONSERVATION.

WE DO NOT NEED A THOUSAND NEW SANCTUARIES.

ARE THERE SOME THAT WE THINK MAKE SENSE AND WILL BECOME PLACES?

FOR SURE.

BUT WHAT THE MOST IMPORTANT GOAL IS -- THAT COMMUNITIES HAVE THESE DISCUSSIONS.

HE OVERSEES THE MANAGEMENT OF 13 MARINE SANCTUARIES IN THE U.S.

IN ORDER TO INCREASE PROTECTED AREAS, HE'S PUSHING FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES TO NOMINATE BAYS, ESTUARIES, AND NEAR-SHORE AREAS TO BECOME SANCTUARIES.

IT IS ABOUT CITIZENS BEING INCENTIVIZED TO UNDERSTAND THEY COUNT, THEY MAKE A DIFFERENCE, THAT THEY CAN ACTUALLY DETERMINE WHAT HAPPENS TO THEIR OCEAN IN THEIR IMMEDIATE VICINITY, HOW THEY CAN SUSTAIN THEIR LOCAL ECONOMY, HOW THEY CAN SUSTAIN THEIR CULTURE THROUGH THE PROCESS OF CREATING A SANCTUARY, AND HOW THAT HELPS THEM DETERMINE WHO THEY ARE.

CAN INDIVIDUAL COASTAL COMMUNITIES TRULY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

CAN YOU FIND BIG SOLUTIONS BY THE SUM OF SMALL ANSWERS?

AND I BELIEVE THE ANSWER IS 'YES.'

IN FACT, I BELIEVE IT IS THE ONLY WAY.

IT HAS TO BE A PUBLIC WILL.

THE PUBLIC, AT THE VERY BASIC LEVEL, HAS TO FIND THEMSELVES CONNECTED, VALUING, AND SEEING THEMSELVES, AND YOU CAN'T SEE THAT WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THE OCEAN.

BUT IF I TALK ABOUT YOUR BAY, YOUR PLACE, YOU GET IT.

THE BLUE OCEAN FILM FESTIVAL BROUGHT OCEANOGRAPHERS, FILMMAKERS, ENVIRONMENTALISTS, AND A COMMUNITY TOGETHER TO TEACH AND INSPIRE ONE ANOTHER.

THERE'S THIS UNIVERSE OF PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO DON'T KNOW WHAT THOSE GATHERED HERE KNOW, AND THERE'S A CHANCE TO MAGNIFY THE VIEW.

AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS AT THE BLUE OCEAN FILM FESTIVAL.

YOU GET PUMPED UP, INSPIRED ABOUT 'WHAT I'M DOING REALLY MATTERS.

IT'S IMPORTANT.'

AND, YOU KNOW, YOU GET YOUR BATTERIES RECHARGED.

SCIENTIST, EXPLORER, ADVOCATE -- SYLVIA EARLE'S 50-YEAR CAREER HAS OPENED HER EYES TO HOW WE, AS HUMANS, HAVE HAD AN UNFATHOMABLE EFFECT ON THE OCEANS.

I'M A WITNESS TO THE CHANGES THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN THE SPAN OF A HUMAN LIFETIME.

WELL, I'M NOT FINISHED YET, I HOPE.

YOU KNOW, JUST IN DECADES, NOT MILLENNIA, CONSEQUENCES HAVE CHANGED THAT ARE GEOLOGIC IN NATURE.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME, WE'VE LEARNED MORE THAN DURING ALL PRECEDING HISTORY.

ALTHOUGH WE HAVE BEGUN TO TAKE STEPS TO PROTECT MARINE MAMMALS, LIKE WHALES AND SEALS, DR. EARLE CALLS FOR BROADER EFFORTS.

THE FISH, THE LOBSTERS, THE SHRIMP, THE SQUID THAT ARE JUST TAKEN WITHOUT MERCY EVERYWHERE -- WE NEED TO VALUE THEM FOR REASONS BEYOND FOOD, BECAUSE WE DO HAVE CHOICES FOR FOOD.

WE DON'T HAVE CHOICES IN TERMS OF FINDING ANOTHER OCEAN THAT WORKS IN OUR FAVOR.

WE'VE GOT TO TAKE CARE OF OCEAN.