The First Hope Spot in Iceland
We had been dreaming of this for years.
Years fighting, gathering information, studying, contacting experts, raising our voices and singing to the four winds that our coast, our wonderful and unique coast, deserved recognition commensurate with its value.
And finally, at the beginning of this year 2023, the dream came true.
Together, Ocean Missions NGO and the Húsavík Whale Museum, along with the support of other local organizations such as the Stefansson Arctic Institute and the University of Iceland’s Húsavík Research Centre, nominated the ocean area of Skjálfandi Bay, Eyjafjörður and Grímsey Island to become…
ICELAND’S FIRST HOPE SPOT!
BUT… WHAT IS EXACTLY A HOPE SPOT?
Hope Spots are unique ocean areas that are recognized by the non-profit organization Mission Blue, which is lead by the legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle.
While about 12 percent of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks etc.), less than six percent of the ocean is protected in any way. Hope Spots allow us to plan for the future and look beyond current Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which are like national parks on land where exploitative uses like fishing and deep sea mining are restricted. Hope Spots are often areas that need new protection, but they can also be existing MPAs where more action is needed. They can be large, they can be small, but they all provide hope due to:
- A special abundance or diversity of species, unusual or representative species, habitats or ecosystems.
- Particular populations of rare, threatened or endemic species.
- A site with potential to reverse damage from negative human impacts.
- The presence of natural processes such as major migration corridors or spawning grounds.
- Significant historical, cultural or spiritual values.
- Particular economic importance to the community.
Collectively all of these Hope Spots will create a global wave of community support for ocean conservation that leaders and policymakers can’t ignore.
Currently there are more than 150 Hope Spots around the world. And The Northeast Icelandic Hope Spot is now one of them!
With this area’s ideal sub-Arctic location allowing for large plankton blooms and supporting important kelp forests, valuable fish stocks, immense sea bird nesting cliffs, and thriving seal, porpoise, dolphin and whale populations, it is clear it deserves this very special recognition!
WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO NOW?
The designation of the Northeast Iceland Hope Spot does not come with any binding agreements; it is simply shining an international spotlight on our area that is unique and deserves to be protected. It is up to all the communities in this area to decide how we should move forwards with the protection and sustainable use of our oceans.
Many Hope Spots around the globe are, or are striving to become, Marine Protected Areas. Currently less than 1% of Iceland’s marine spaces are protected, though Iceland has signed the UN agreement which aims to protect 30% of both land and ocean areas by 2030. The designation of this Hope Spot can be a stepping-stone towards stronger legal marine protection and sustainable use of Iceland’s ocean resources, preserving it’s natural wonders for future generations.
TOWARDS LEGAL MARINE PROTECTION
From Iceland, we are creating a wave of action that is moving the locals and people from all over the world to pay attention to this marine spot. Every conversation, every encounter, every gentle gesture with nature, counts. We have created a special local organisation, aiming to inform and educate the citizens about the importance of the creation of a Marine Protected Area.
TRANSFORMING HOPE INTO ACTION
We live in a world of beauty where animals and plants have the same right of coexisting with us and live on this planet. Most of them have been existing here way longer than us, humans. In historical times, we “just arrived”. The lessons we can learn from nature are so valuable that we simply depend on them. We need to start a process of regeneration. Regenerating ourselves as part of the natural world and regenerating our ecosystems in the way that we can coexist in peace and harmony with the animals. We should stop fighting against TIME and NATURE for growth but just let TIME and NATURE them BE in control. Only by doing that will we find the cure to save our sick planet.