Little Tristan da Cunha protects the massive marine space

One of the most significant protective measures in recent times was announced in mid-November when the government of Tristan da Cunha, a volcanic archipelago in the South Atlantic and part of the UK's overseas territories, said it would affect nearly 700,000 km² of water (270,300 square miles) as it becomes a marine reserve, the fourth largest such protected area in the world.

The move protects the globally threatened yellow-nosed albatross and Atlantic petrel, the rockhopper penguin and other birds found in the region. This is a step towards the UK government's goal of protecting 30 percent of the world's oceans by 2030.

The UK, which is committed to protecting the wildlife found in all of its territories, will be responsible for long-term surveillance and enforcement of the area, which is about three times the size of the UK.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds welcomed the news. "Tristan da Cunha is a place like no other," said Beccy Speight, its managing director. “The waters surrounding this remote British overseas territory are some of the richest in the world. Dozens of millions of sea birds soar over the waves, penguins and seals crowd the beaches, endangered sharks breed off the coast and mysterious whales feed in the deep water canyons. As of today we can say that all of this is protected. "

UK Environment Secretary Lord Goldsmith described the announcement as a "great environmental gain" and an "extremely important step towards protecting the world's biodiversity and ecosystems".

This article was published in Birding Briefs in the January / February 2021 issue of BirdWatching magazine. Subscribe now

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