Mounting pressure on UK for marine protection


A coalition of leading marine conservation organisations is to urge the British Government to safeguard the maritime zones of the UK’s overseas territories by creating three of the largest marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world.

UK is being requested to fund large-scale protection of the waters surrounding Ascension, Pitcairn and South Sandwich Islands.

The United Kingdom has jurisdiction over the fifth largest maritime zone in the world – an area of ocean nearly 30 times the size of the UK itself. The three MPAs proposed would more than double the size of existing protected areas in the ocean.

Fully protecting these areas would mean shielding countless rare and threatened species including endemic seabirds, whales, turtles, penguins and corals from the enormous threats of overfishing, pollution and resource extraction.

UK global pledge is to protect 10% of the world’s ocean by 2020. This would require urgent action now to protect these precious ecosystems. The UK has the potential to create the largest marine reserve in the world and make a significant contribution to this global target. UK could surpass the United States as the world leader in ocean protection.

The latest satellite technologies would enable monitoring and enforcement to be much more cost effective than back in the days when the only solution was providing expensive enforcement boats. This is seen as a key opportunity for the UK to show innovative global leadership in the area.