Ascension Island to Become Marine Reserve
The UK government is to create a UK-sized marine reserve around Ascension Island in the Atlantic
The waters around Ascension Island in the Atlantic are to become a marine reserve after a successful 16-month-long campaign led by the GB Oceans coalition.
After negotiations between the Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), a GB Oceans coalition member, the Ascension Island Government and the UK Government, the parties proposed the creation of a marine protected area which is set to be 234,291 square kilometres in size.
A £300,000 grant from the Bacon Foundation is being put towards enforcing the fishing ban in 52.6 per cent of the area as well as satellite surveillance and patrol boats to help implement a strict tuna fishery in the other 47.4 per cent of the reserve.
James Duddridge, the Minister for the UK Overseas Territories, said: 'This will aid the Ascension Island Government in identifying and securing the future size and shape of a fully protected marine reserve in at least 50 per cent of Ascension’s maritime zone.'
Further scientific research will determine the final boundaries of the proposed area which may be agreed on as soon as 2017.
Once described as 'hope spot' by BLUE Ambassador Sylvia Earle, Ascension's waters boast a thriving marine ecosystems. The island is known for its large schools of black durgon triggerfish, marlins, green turtles and sea bird colonies.
Commercial fishing will be allowed to the north of the island, but carefully monitored and regulated. A total ban on shark fishing and catch restrictions of vulnerable shark species will be put into place. Vessels will be required to have de-hookers and dip nets on board to release live incidentally caught seabirds, turtles and sharks.
'With the creation of a marine reserve, Ascension will be performing a significant service for the biodiversity of the whole Atlantic, said Charles Clover, Executive Chairman of the Blue Marine Foundation. We implore US and UK leaders to [...] allow the Ascension economy to develop in other ways to benefit from the island’s new role as protector of a vast and less-exploited part of the ocean.'
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