The Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in the Bahamas has been formally designated a ‘Hope Spot’ and Pierfrancesco Vago – MSC Foundation board member and chair of the executive committee and executive chairman of the Cruise Division of MSC Group – as the Hope Spot Champion by Mission Blue, the non-profit organisation founded by renowned oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle to promote the protection of marine ecosystems.
With this prestigious recognition, Ocean Cay joins Mission Blue’s global network of 154 Hope Spots: places recognised as critical to ocean health with the ultimate goal of achieving the status of Marine Protected Areas.
When MSC Cruises took responsibility for Ocean Cay in 2015, the island suffered from decades of industrial activities, including aragonite sand mining. The company embarked on an ambitious restoration initiative, collaborating with the Government of The Bahamas, leading universities, marine scientists and conservationists to restore the island’s ecosystems.
Through a substantial investment, the restoration project has already achieved significant progress. Nearly 5,000 trees and 75,000 indigenous plants, flowers and shrubs have been planted on the island, revitalising the terrestrial environment.
Meanwhile, the health of the surrounding waters is demonstrated by the now flourishing marine life, which includes the presence of loggerhead sea turtles.
The Marine Restoration Programme covers 64 square kilometres of marine waters and ecosystems around Ocean Cay. It was expanded in 2019 when the MSC Foundation started its Super Coral Programme to restore the island’s coral reefs.
The MSC Foundation – MSC’s non-profit philanthropic division – is planning to further this work and engage the attention of many thousands of cruise visitors every year, raising awareness of the urgent need for ocean conservation efforts worldwide.