Cape Research and Diver Development (Radd) champions biodiversity conservation by reminding residents and visitors to the Deep South beaches that False Bay is an internationally recognised hope spot.
The Mission Blue initiative was launched in 2009 by Dr Sylvia Earle who, with her team, identified special places around the world that are critical to the health of the ocean, called “hope spots”.
The coastline from False Bay, extending all the way to Knysna, was recognised as one of these hope spots, and according to Jessica Finlay of the Cape Radd marine field station in Simon’s Town: “It is quite big for False Bay and Simon’s Town.”
Mike Barron, co-founder and marine biologist at the station, explains the criteria on which the area was given its hope spot-status.
“They went around the world in 2014 and went to certain areas which tick their boxes. The area must have large populations of endemic (native) species, large bounce-back ability (reverse damage), economic importance, and have diverse species and ecosystems.
“False Bay was distinguished as one of these areas.” While the area was labelled in 2014 for its potential to keep important ecosystems alive, Cape Radd wants to remind the public that the area is of global importance and use this as a platform to escalate conservation efforts.
“We wanted to bring it back to the forefront. We need to reach out to everybody. What we’re trying to push is ownership of this special place,” Barron says.
Barron notes that False Bay is a billion Rand eco-trade where fishing should be done responsibly and sustainably. He says the community as a whole should take ownership of the seas in a multi-layered approach to conservation.
The research centre is currently putting together a Hope Spot Committee to initiate projects to promote marine conservation. The centre also partners with local community initiatives that support their aims for preservation, thus building a larger community of environmentally aware residents (Over 300 people, 450 bags of rubbish; People’s Post; 18 June).
While the sea and its biodiversity may be under numerous threats, Cape Radd is confident the community will band together to come to the rescue of the oceans.