San Francisco Bay Hope Spot
By Sylvia Gibson
In April, 2019 San Francisco Bay became a “Hope Spot” to engage the hearts of the seven million people who live around the bay in deeper understanding of the SF Bay as an ecosystem, how its health impacts our lives, and how important a healthy bay is to a healthy ocean. Our goals are to inspire Bay Area residents and policy makers to do what we can to protect and restore the healthy ecosystem of the bay, to get people and students out into our bay and marine ecosystems, and to enhance public awareness of the connections between the SF Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
Hope Spots are inspired by the vision of renowned marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer and author Dr. Sylvia Earle and designated by her nonprofit organization Mission Blue:
“A Hope Spot is any special place that is critical to the health of the ocean—Earth‘s blue heart. Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean. Dr. Sylvia Earle introduced the concept in her 2009 TED talk and since then the idea has inspired millions across the planet. Dr. Earle wishes for “a global network of Hope Spots that will protect and restore a healthy ocean.”While about 12 percent of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks etc.), less than five 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). 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
- Spectacles of nature, e.g. major migration corridors or spawning grounds
- Significant historical, cultural or spiritual values
- Particular economic importance to the community
The idea is that anyone can nominate a site special to him or her—a site that gives HOPE. Collectively all of these Hope Spots will create a global wave of community support for ocean conservation that leaders and policy makers can’t ignore.”(https://mission-blue.org/ )
San Francisco Bay is one of 145 Hope Spots around the planet. Here we have the chance protect and restore the vibrant ecosystem of the bay so that it can continue to provide its many recreational, economic, and environmental services. SF Bay is home to over 500 species of fish and wildlife including salmon along their migratory route to inland spawning grounds, herring, anchovies, and other marine fishes; oysters, mussels, clams, crabs, shrimp and other shellfish, and marine mammals including seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises and whales. It is a critically important stopover along the Pacific Flyway for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl.
SF Bay has extensive opportunities for public engagement and education on and around the water. Science museums, parks, trails, marinas, beaches and working waterfronts all help connect residents and tourists to the bay.
Since the 1970’s there have been many gains in the restoration of the SF Bay. The 1972 passage of the federal Clean Water Act, which forced local governments to stop dumping raw sewage into the bay, was the first important step towards reversing the bay’s decline. Nowadays raw sewage poses a problem only after heavy rains, when storm drains overflow. Some endangered species have rebounded, most notably the brown pelican which was virtually wiped out due to pesticides in the 1960’s. The bay has also seen the return of porpoises and whales; and we hope to soon see otters once again playing in the bays waves. Building restrictions have all but halted landfilling and thousands of acres of wetlands have been restored. But threats to the bay’s ecosystem remain. These include shipping, climate change (ocean warming, acidification, and hypoxia), fossil fuel industry, power plants, non-native species, habitat modification, human disturbance, water quality, freshwater diversion, sea level rise, stormwater pollution, sand mining and coastal armoring (using physical structures to protect coastlines from coastal erosion).
The mission of San Francisco Bay Hope Spot is to restore and protect the bay’s ecosystem by engaging the many stakeholders that live, study, work and play on and around the bay. We are a group of community activists, ocean enthusiasts and scientists. We welcome you to join us in our work to restore and protect this place that we love!
Follow us on facebook: San Francisco Bay Hope Spot
Join us at one of our monthly, family friendly, coastal clean up and networking events on the second Saturday of each month.
SF Bay Hope Spot Coastal Clean-Up
Alameda Waterfront Park 2151 Ferry Point, Alameda, CA, 94501
We will collect trash and recyclables around Seaplane Lagoon
Bring gloves and a bucket or bag
SF Bay Hope Spot & Blue Drinks (family friendly)
Meet up and networking event for people who love the bay, estuary and ocean!
The Rake Pub, 651A W Tower Ave, Alameda, CA, 94501
A time to enjoy community collaboration, good times, and join the discussion about how we can protect, restore, and enjoy San Francisco Bay.