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‘Tristan da Cunha, declared the largest fully protected marine reserve’

Published: 23rd Nov, 2020

‘Tristan da Cunha, declared the largest fully protected marine reserve’

The isolated UK Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha, which is home to the world’s most remote human settlement, declared the largest fully protected marine reserves in the Atlantic Ocean at 687,000 square kilometres.

Context

The isolated UK Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha, which is home to the world’s most remote human settlement, declared the largest fully protected marine reserves in the Atlantic Ocean at 687,000 square kilometres.

About

  • Tristan da Cunha, a British territory, is 2,300 miles east of South America and 1,600 miles west of South Africa. 
  • Tristan da Cunha, which is inhabited by less than 300 humans is a small chain of islands and the water around the islands are considered to be the richest in the world.
  • The island group is also home to the World Heritage Site of Gough and Inaccessible Islands, which is one of the most important seabird islands in the world.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

  • Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) involve the protective management of natural areas according to pre-defined management objectives.
  • MPAs can be conserved for a number of reasons including economic resources, biodiversity conservation, and species protection.
  • Around 8 percent of the world’s oceans are designated as MPAs, but only 2.6 percent are totally off limits to fishing.

Conservation threats

  • As remote as it is, Tristan da Cunha is not without its conservation threats. Invasive mice, brought by passing ships, kill about two million birds a year. The first eradication program will take place in 2021.
  • The mountainous archipelago Tristan da Cunha is home to tens of millions of seabirds and several unique land birds that are comparable to the Galapagos island finches.
  • However, some of its seabirds that are not found anywhere else in the world face threats including illegal and unregulated fishing activities, overfishing, plastic pollution and climate change.
  • As of now, there are two critically endangered species in the island group and over five endangered species.

Benefits from marine protection

  • The new marine reserve excludes the designated fishing zones just offshore several islands. Inside the marine reserve, no fishing will be permitted.
  • Under the protection of the U.K.’s Blue Belt Programme, Tristan da Cunha will receive more resources for patrolling its waters for illegal fishing activity.

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