Home / news / The largest fully protected marine reserve in the Atlantic and 4th largest in the world designated around Tristan da Cunha

The largest fully protected marine reserve in the Atlantic and 4th largest in the world designated around Tristan da Cunha

The largest fully protected marine reserve in the Atlantic and 4th largest in the world designated around Tristan da Cunha

November 2020

Tristan da Cunha, a UK overseas territory in the South Atlantic, is the most remote inhabited island in the world, located 2,700 km from Cape Town. It is home to a community of 270 UK citizens who have made a visionary commitment to establish a protection regime for over 90% of their vast 754,000 sq km of territorial waters – making it the largest marine reserve in the Atlantic and 4th largest in the world. These waters serve as critical nursery grounds for the threatened blue shark and feeding grounds for the critically endangered southern bluefin tuna.

The Tristan da Cunha community made their decision with support from the UK’s Blue Belt Programme and an international partnership of NGOs, especially RSPB, and foundations. Helped by contributions from Blue Nature Alliance, Wyss Foundation, National Geographic Society, Kaltroco, Don Quixote II Foundation and the Great British Oceans coalition – BFCT together with Blue Marine Foundation have realised designation of 687,247 sq km as a fully protected marine reserve. This reserve closes over 90% of the waters to all extractive activities such as fishing and deep sea mining, and 100% of the waters to destructive bottom trawling. This will help to protect the pristine and sensitive seafloor habitats such as deep-sea corals and sponges from harmful fishing whilst supporting the livelihood of the local communities.

We hope that the UK government will take the necessary steps to protect and restore its home waters where destructive bottom trawlers and supertrawlers are legally allowed to fish in protected areas. A recent study by the University of California and the National Geographic Society found that strategically expanding MPAs in 5 per cent of the ocean would boost global fish catches by at least 20 per cent in future. That is 9 to 12 million metric tonnes of more fish catch annually, a win-win for fisheries, food security and biodiversity.

Further information on the announcement by the UK Government can be found here.

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