More than 4.3 million sq. km of some of the world’s most precious marine environment – 1% 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, declared on Friday the largest fully protected marine reserve in the Atlantic Ocean at 687,000 square kilometers. 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 Program, which provides £27 million over five years for marine conservation around UK Overseas Territories, and international organizations.
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,we are in danger of killing our seas. We are warming them up, making them more acidic and every day we fill them with turtle-choking, dolphin-poisoning plastic that is turning our ocean into a vast floating rubbish dump.
That’s why I am delighted that the United Kingdom has now protected more than 4.3 million square kilometres of the world’s ocean, following Tristan da Cunha’s announcement.
I am now calling on other nations to join us in our ambition to protect 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030. We need collective global action if we are to bequeath a world that is every bit as wonderful and magnificent as the one we inherited.
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 Program, 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.”