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Campaign to Create and Preserve MPAs in Waters of British Overseas Territories

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A new campaign, backed by the Blue Marine Foundation, Greenpeace, Marine Conservation Society, The Pew Trusts, RSPB and Zoological Society of London, is aiming to press the UK government into backing protection for the 'Blue Belt', a series of marine protected areas covering 7 of the 14 British Overseas Territories.

The collective group, known as 'Great British Oceans', are asking the UK public to register to ask for the backing of their local MP to offer protection to the 'Blue Belt', which includes Ascension Island, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha, the British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Pitcairn Islands, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. 

Stretching over four million square kilometres, the Blue Belt would include and expand the existing marine protected areas, which are home to breeding grounds for a quarter of the world’s penguins (British Antarctic Territory), a third of the world’s albatrosses (South Georgia), endangered turtles (Ascension), the world’s largest coral atoll (Pitcairn Islands), and the only currently known place in the world where adult whale sharks gather to find a mate (St Helena). 

The proposal is for Overseas Territory Governments to get the support they need to create a Blue Belt which, combined with UK waters, would become the largest network of marine reserves in the world.

BLUE BELT CHARTER (from www.greatbritishoceans.org)

With the fifth largest marine estate in the world, the UK and its Overseas Territories are custodian to the largest coral atoll on earth, globally significant populations of albatross, whales and turtles, and as many as a quarter of the penguins on the planet.

Through the actions of successive governments, the UK has demonstrated global leadership in ocean conservation. We call on the UK to reaffirm this leadership by working with the governments of the Overseas Territories to deliver on Blue Belt pledges to:

  • Establish a 500,000 km² fully protected Marine Protected Area around the South Sandwich Islands in 2018
  • Deliver on the commitment to establish a fully protected Marine Protected Area in at least 50% of Ascension Island’s waters in 2019
  • Support the establishment of a locally-led marine protection regime throughout the waters of Tristan da Cunha by 2020
  • Strengthen the development of the locally-led marine protection regime throughout the waters of St Helena

We also call on the UK to remain a leading force within those international bodies concerned with greater protection of the Polar Regions, the UN process for establishing Marine Protected Areas on the High Seas, and within the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations.

All that is required to take action is to visit the website and enter your postcode, which will give you all the contact details of your local MP. You can then write, e-mail or tweet to express your support and ask them to back the campaign. A list of the 138 MPs who are – at the time of writing – supporting the campaign is already available.

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