Prime Minister confirms that more than 4.3 million sq km of some of the world’s most precious marine environment will be protected.
More than 4.3 million sq km (2.7m miles) of some of the world’s most precious marine environment – 1 percent of all the world’s ocean – will be protected following the success of the UK’s Blue Belt Programme, the Prime Minister has confirmed.
The announcement by Tristan da Cunha of a new Marine Protection Zone will safeguard the future of sevengill sharks, yellow-nosed albatrosses and rockhopper penguins in the remote archipelago and means the Government has now exceeded its ambitious target to protect 4 million sq km of ocean.
The isolated UK Overseas Territory, home to the world’s most remote human settlement, has today declared the largest fully protected marine reserve in the Atlantic Ocean at 687,000 square kilometres (265,252 square miles). This will close over 90% of their waters to harmful activities like bottom-trawling fishing, sand extraction and deep-sea mining.
The Tristan da Cunha community was supported by the UK’s Blue Belt Programme, which provides £27 million over five years for marine conservation around UK Overseas Territories, and international organisations.
They join other Overseas Territories who protect their waters with the support of this initiative, including Ascension Island, the British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the Pitcairn Islands and St Helena – covering an area 17 times the size of the UK and over 1 percent of the Earth’s entire ocean.
This achievement comes with one year to go until the UK hosts the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) – to be held in Glasgow in November 2021. As President, the UK Government will bring world leaders together to drive progress on tackling climate change and forge new ways to protect marine biodiversity and tackle plastic pollution in our ocean.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
The waters around the UK’s Overseas Territories are some of the richest and most biologically diverse in the world – but they face a range of threats, including climate change, damaging fishing methods and unsustainable extractive activities.
Tristan da Cunha, for example, has 25 seabird species that breed there alone, four of which are unique to the islands and are at threat of extinction – the Tristan Albatross, Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Atlantic Petrel and Spectacled Petrel.
Through its ambitious Blue Belt Programme, the UK government has worked in partnership with the Overseas Territories to bring together marine experts and cutting-edge scientific research to protect and manage the waters surrounding the Territories.
UK Minister for the Environment, Lord Goldsmith, said:
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), also played an important role. For the past two decades the RSPB has worked closely with the local community in Tristan da Cunha and conducted vital research to secure long-term protection.
RSPB CEO, Beccy Speight, said:
The Blue Belt Programme makes a significant contribution to the UK-led 30 by 30 initiative, an international commitment made by the Global Ocean Alliance and launched by the UK in 2019 to protect at least 30% of the global ocean in Marine Protected Areas by 2030. A total of 32 countries have now joined the alliance.
The international partnership that supported Tristan da Cunha’s decision to designate a highly protected Marine Protection Zone comprises of RSPB, National Geographic Pristine Seas, Blue Nature Alliance, Becht Family Charitable Trust together with Blue Marine Foundation, Wyss Foundation, Kaltroco, Don Quixote II Foundation and the Great British Oceans coalition.