The University of Queensland’s Dr Chris Roelfsema said Hope Spots were areas decreed to be special places that are “vital to the health of the ocean, the blue heart of our planet.”
Dr Roelfsema and Jennifer Loder, representing the volunteer citizen scientists of University of Queensland Underwater Club (UniDive), UQ Coral Watch and Reef Check Australia, nominated Moreton Bay Marine Park as a Hope Spot.
“Our submission was successful and announced at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature meeting in Hawaii on September 9, which is great for outcome for citizen science in Moreton Bay,” Dr Roelfsema said.
Dr Roelfsema is a volunteer organiser of various UniDive projects and academic at Remote Sensing Research Centre, School of Geography, Environmental Management and Planning, focusing his research on monitoring and mapping coral reef and seagrass environments.
“This is a clear demonstration of the positive outcomes from engaging volunteers and the community in science, as long-term research from citizen science projects helped to support this nomination,” Dr Roelfsema said.
“It is a great encouragement for UniDive Flinders Reef Ecological Assessment project for which the training of volunteers and planning just has started.”
Reef Check Australia General Manager Ms Loder said she welcomed the news.
“This is a celebration for especially the volunteers involved marine conservation as Hope Spots are about recognising, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean,” she said.
The Moreton Bay Marine Park covers Moreton Bay waters, from Caloundra to the southern tip of South Stradbroke Island and extending three nautical miles seaward from Moreton Island and North and South Stradbroke islands.
It includes the wide expanse of Moreton Bay, offshore reefs, numerous islands, internationally significant wetlands, seagrass meadows and sandy beaches.
The Hope Spot map can be viewed online here.