MSC's Bahamian island Ocean Cay designated as 'Hope Spot' by Mission Blue

   July 14, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

MSC Ocean Cay (Bahamas) has officially been designated as a 'Hope Spot' by Mission Blue, a non-profit organization founded by Sylvia Earle to promote the protection of marine ecosystems. Pierfrancesco Vago, a board member of the MSC Foundation and Chair of the Executive Committee, as well as the Executive Chairman of the Cruise Division of MSC Group, has been recognized as the Hope Spot Champion for this area.

Being recognized as a Hope Spot means that Ocean Cay joins Mission Blue's global network of 154 locations that are considered crucial for the health of the oceans, with the ultimate goal of achieving the status of Marine Protected Areas. The selection process for these spots is rigorous and involves evaluation by the Hope Spot Council, which consists of marine scientists and policy experts, ensuring that the chosen locations reflect global marine conservation needs.

When MSC Cruises took over Ocean Cay in 2015, the island had suffered from decades of industrial activities, including sand mining. However, the company initiated an ambitious restoration project in collaboration with the Government of The Bahamas, leading universities, marine scientists, and conservationists to restore the island's ecosystems.

Significant progress has already been made through substantial investment in the restoration initiative. Thousands of trees and indigenous plants have been planted, revitalizing the terrestrial environment. The marine life surrounding the island is flourishing, with the presence of loggerhead sea turtles as an indicator of the improved health of the waters.

The Marine Restoration Programme encompasses a vast area of 64 square kilometers of marine waters and ecosystems around Ocean Cay. In 2019, the MSC Foundation expanded the program by launching the Super Coral Programme, which aims to restore the island's coral reefs. This innovative initiative involves scientific collaboration and advanced research to identify 'super corals,' which are more resilient to thermal stress caused by climate change. These corals will be strategically transplanted to create hardier reefs that can withstand extreme heat events.

The MSC Foundation plans to continue and expand these restoration efforts, as well as raise awareness among the thousands of cruise visitors who visit Ocean Cay each year. Their goal is to emphasize the urgent need for ocean conservation worldwide.