By Alyssa Tylor, Marine Conservation Institute Blue Parks Intern.
Do you need some positive news? We realize your primary focus these days is the health and safety of yourself and your loved ones in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our goal is not to diminish those concerns. But if a little ocean optimism could boost your spirits, please read on to meet the 2020 Blue Park Award nominees.
Blue Park Awards are given to exemplary marine protected areas (MPAs) whose biodiversity and management have been evaluated using our science-based criteria. They are the MPAs that are in the right places, with the right rules, and the right management to effectively safeguard marine wildlife. We are thrilled to announce 4 nominees for the 2020 Blue Park Awards: Brazil’s Abrolhos Marine National Park, the Netherlands’ Bonaire National Marine Park in the Caribbean, Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area in the Southern Ocean, and Mexico’s Revillagigedo Marine National Park in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.
Abrolhos Marine National Park protects some of the most biodiverse reefs in the South Atlantic Ocean. These reefs include high levels of endemism with about 25% of fish and 30% of scleratin corals reported as endemic. The area is also an important breeding ground for southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae).
Bonaire National Marine Park protects healthy coral reefs, some of the highest fish counts in the Caribbean Sea, mangrove and seagrass ecosystems, and important nursery grounds for queen conch.
The Ross Sea region MPA is the largest MPA in the world, covering 2,090,027 km2 of the Southern Ocean. It is the last remaining, near-pristine open-ocean and continental shelf ecosystem on Earth, and it protects numerous endemic species and half of the Antarctic orca population.
Revillagigedo National Marine Park, located at the convergence of major ocean currents off the coast of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, is a highly productive area that successfully supports an incredibly biodiverse ecosystem of corals, fish, 28 shark species, turtles, giant manta rays, and humpback whales.
These nominees have demonstrated evidence of meeting these criteria, but we need your help to complete this stage of the evaluation. We have posted our evaluation reports for each of the nominees for you to review and comment forms you can use to submit your feedback on the 2020 nominees web page. Particularly if you have experience with any of these nominees, we would love your input! The public comment period will remain open until 6 May 2020 – please help us evaluate the nominees today! Additionally, we are always looking for new Blue Park nominations, so if you know an MPA that should receive a Blue Park Award, tell us about it!
After the 2020 Blue Park Awards are announced at the Our Oceans Conference, they will join an international network of outstanding Blue Parks, uniting the global oceans and the people who care about them. In stressful times, Blue Parks continue to provide ocean optimism. You can learn more about Blue Parks by visiting the website: https://blueparks.org/.
We wish you health and hope!