UK Establishes Atlantic’s Biggest Marine Sanctuary To Protect Millions Of Animals
A new marine sanctuary will protect birds, sharks, whales, seals, penguins and undersea kelp forests from fishing, illegal mining and other extractive activities.
The sanctuary centres around a group of islands, the Tristan da Cunha, which span 265,347 square miles and are valued as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In an announcement on Thursday, November 12, the islands’ government said it had partnered with the UK Government, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and National Geographic’s Pristine Seas Initiative in a bid to reach its goal of protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.
It said that almost 700,000 square kilometres of its waters will join the UK’s Blue Belt of marine protection, becoming the largest marine sanctuary in the Atlantic and fourth-largest in the world.
James Glass, Tristan da Cunha Chief Islander, welcomed the partnership, saying:
Our life on Tristan da Cunha has always been based around our relationship with the sea, and that continues today. The sea is our vital resource, for our economy and ultimately for our long-term survival. That’s why we’re fully protecting 90% of our waters – and we’re proud that we can play a key role in preserving the health of the oceans.
A recent study by the University of California and the National Geographic Society found that banning fishing in 5% or more of the ocean would boost global fish catches by at least 20% in future.
Lord Goldsmith, the UK Minister for the Environment, described the sanctuary as a ‘huge conservation win’:
We are hoovering life out of the ocean at an appalling rate, so this new marine protected area is really a huge conservation win and a critically important step in protecting the world’s biodiversity and ecosystems.
The archipelago is home to around 245 people of British, Italian, Dutch and American heritage, as per Good News Network.
Enric Sala, a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, said it is a testament to Tristan da Cunha ‘that one of the world’s smallest communities can make the single biggest contribution to global marine conservation this year’.
‘We can all look to Tristan for inspiration as the world commences a decade of work to protect 30% of the global ocean by 2030,’ he said.
Most of the inhabitants on the island make their living through the sustainable lobster fishery, which is excluded from the protected zone.
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