The Houtman Abrolhos Islands, an A-Class marine reserve 60km off the coast of Geraldton in Western Australia, have been recognised as an ocean Hope Spot by ocean conservation organisation Mission Blue, joining 85 other sites globally and one other in Australia – Moreton Bay in Queensland.
The Mission Blue Hope Spot program, led by legendary oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle, is a global campaign to build public awareness, support and, where necessary, protection for special places that are vital to the health of the ocean. Often described as the Galapagos Islands of the Indian Ocean, there are few places in Australia wilder and with more biodiversity than the remote Houtman Abrolhos Islands. The islands provide substantial economic, scientific and social benefits to the Western Australian community, including commercial fisheries for rock lobster, scallops and finfish; pearl aquaculture; recreational fishing; marine-based activities; bird watching and a developing tourism industry. However, they are not immune to significant potential threats such as warming waters and ocean acidity.
The nomination of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands was jointly made by Regional Development Australia Mid West and Gascoyne (RDAMWG), whose mandate is to deliver a program of economic development across the region, and the Western Australian Ocean Foundation (WAOF), whose mission is to facilitate the continuous improvement in the health of the oceans of Western Australia.