San Francisco-Based WildAid Addresses Urgent Need for Ocean Protection: Will Announce Ambitious Plan To Strengthen Enforcement of 250 Protected Areas Within Five Years

San Francisco (June 18, 2019) – WildAid announced today an ambitious plan to strengthen enforcement of 250 marine and coastal areas by 2025. These areas have been designated as protected but lack crucial support, thereby leaving local marine wildlife and coastal communities vulnerable to overexploitation. In honor of World Oceans Month, WildAid and other organizations, including Mission Blue, Kristin Hettermann / OCEANSCAPES and the Jeremy Dossetter Living Ocean Fund, are generating awareness for the need to enhance protections of marine areas.

“Unfortunately, the majority of ocean spaces that have been declared protected fall short of their true potential,” says WildAid Marine Program Director Meaghan Brosnan. “Making the promise of marine protected areas real will help provide coastal income and jobs, rehabilitate marine wildlife, and mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Less than six percent of the world's oceans are protected, according to the United Nations. And of those, 60 percent lack the resources, training and enforcement capabilities to actually protect the ecosystems and wildlife, and prevent overfishing or illegal fishing, sea turtle poaching, and mangrove destruction. WildAid’s new plan ambitiously aims to shift that reality.


To make the announcement of WildAid’s plan, the San Francisco-based nonprofit is hosting an awareness event at the San Francisco War Memorial. The event features a discussion with Brosnan, a Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard, a marine photography gallery collection by Kristin Hettermann of OCEANSCAPES Photography, recognition of the Jeremy Dossetter Living Ocean Fund, and a keynote speech by Dr. Sylvia Earle, founder and CEO of Mission Blue.

“We are very excited to honor Jeremy’s legacy at an event highlighting the heroic efforts to save the oceans through the identification and protection of marine areas. We are particularly thrilled to have Dr. Sylvia Earle as our featured speaker,” says David Dossetter, a WildAid board member and co-founder of the Jeremy Dossetter Living Ocean Fund.

The beloved Dr. Sylvia Earle, legendary oceanographer and explorer, will speak about the urgent action needed for ocean protection. Through Mission Blue's Global Hope Spots, local communities are now working individually and collectively to advance ocean protection. Hope Spots directly support the UN Sustainable Development Goal target to conserve at least 10% of the ocean by 2020 as well as the ocean conservation community's recommended target of 30% by 2030.

“Collectively, well-enforced marine protected areas and hope spots will create a global wave of community support for ocean conservation,” says Dr. Earle.

WildAid currently collaborates with local communities and governments in 54 marine sites, including the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador’s network of coastal marine protected areas, Gabon’s network of marine protected areas, and Tanzania’s Pemba Channel Conservation Area. Under WildAid’s plan, new areas targeted for protection include Chile’s Rapa Nui Marine Reserve, as well as its coastal fisheries, the Dominican Republic’s Arrecifes del Sureste marine protected area and Cuba’s network of over 100 marine protected areas.


Another highlight of the evening includes a collection of curated underwater photography by Kristin Hettermann of OCEANSCAPES. Kristin Hettermann is an ocean artivist that uses photography and storytelling to celebrate the beauty of the ocean and raise awareness for important global issues. The collection highlights pristine moments of global ocean exploration – from Indonesia to Polynesia, the Galapagos to the Caribbean – illustrating the eclectic beauty of the ocean and the abundance of species that we aim to protect in successful marine protected areas and Hope Spots.

“Over 70 percent of the earth is covered in ocean,” says Hettermann, whose underwater travel photography hopes to inspire people to “feel the ocean”. “With such a large ocean, enforcement is increasingly becoming a crucial component of protection. The stronger marine environments are, the more resilient they will be for future generations to enjoy.”

Pieces of the featured OCEANSCAPES collection will be available for purchase by the general public after the event on June 18, online at

Brosnan will be highlighting WildAid’s systems-based approach to protection. Each marine protected area or Hope Spot participates in WildAid’s six-step approach, called the BLUEprint for MPA Success, and benefits from a detailed multi-year plan to stop illegal fishing and poaching, identify the right local enforcement techniques & technologies, and develop leadership skills. This approach delivers measurable, enduring success in replenishing local fish populations, supporting coastal livelihoods, and allowing the ocean’s most vulnerable and majestic species to flourish.

WildAid's experience in creating effective enforcement is unparalleled. When the organization started working in the Galapagos Marine Reserve in Ecuador, shark finning was rampant with 12,000 sharks being finned per year. Rangers were limited to one, small inoperable vessel to patrol an area the size of New York state. Now, shark finning within the reserve has been eliminated; the reserve boasts the densest population of sharks in the world; rangers have a fleet of eight patrol vessels, a patrol plane, and satellite vessel monitoring; and enforcement authorities are now able to share their expertise across the region.

Through this event, WildAid invites others to join in their mission to make the promise of marine protected areas real.

Media Contact

Kristin Hettermann (OCEANSCAPES)
1 808 205 4767

Sylvia Earle Visits the Gulf of California:

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Editors Notes

Why Better Protected MPAs Can Mitigate the Impacts of Climate Change

Increasing protection of coastal areas can help mitigate the effects of climate change. Mangroves absorb a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. A Nature analysis of mangrove forests across the Indo-Pacific suggests that “mangrove deforestation generates losses of 0.02–0.12 Pg C yr−1, equivalent to up to 10 percent of carbon emissions from global deforestation.”

Preventing the destruction of mangroves and coral reefs would also save coastal communities hundreds of millions of dollars per year in storm damage. Extreme weather has increased in recent decades, and new and stronger evidence confirms that some of these increases are related to human activities, according to the U.S. National Climate Assessment

About WildAid

WildAid’s Marine Program builds effective, well-enforced marine protected areas (MPAs) to stop illegal fishing and shark finning, rejuvenate wildlife and habitats, and encourage positive economic opportunities for coastal communities. WildAid works closely with local governments and partners to ensure successful marine protected areas by providing and implementing a customized, long-term enforcement plan that includes funding for surveillance technology, enforcement training, and community engagement initiatives, allowing more MPAs to fulfill their conservation potential.

About Mission Blue

Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas – Hope Spots. Under Dr. Earle’s leadership, the Mission Blue team implements communications campaigns that elevate Hope Spots to the world stage through documentaries, social media, traditional media and innovative tools like Google Earth. Mission Blue also embarks on regular oceanic expeditions that shed light on these vital ecosystems and build support for their protection. Currently, the Mission Blue alliance includes more than 200 respected ocean conservation groups and like-minded organizations, from large multinational companies to individual scientific teams doing important research. Additionally, Mission Blue supports the work of conservation NGOs that share the mission of building public support for ocean protection. With the concerted effort and passion of people and organizations around the world, Hope Spots can become a reality and form a global network of marine protected areas large enough to restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.

About OCEANSCAPES Photography

Kristin is an ocean conservationist and underwater photographer who uses the camera and storytelling as tools to tap into emotions and elicit deeper feelings about the ocean. Her artivism platform, OCEANSCAPES, combines science and activism with art and design. She shares her insights on the Scientific American, Newsweek, and Virgin platforms.


About the Jeremy Dossetter Living Ocean Fund

The Jeremy Dossetter Living Ocean Fund was established by the Dossetter family in memory of their son, Jeremy Dossetter, and his everlasting commitment to healing the oceans. WildAid will recognize the Dossetter family at the marine event in June for their partnership and support of their work over the years.

Kristin Hettermann