Great British Oceans commends the British public and Members of Parliament for backing the Blue Belt Charter

Distinguished guests, including Ministers, Members of Parliament, civil servants, marine scientists, and Non-Governmental Organisations, met in the House of Commons today to celebrate the incredible support pledged to the Blue Belt Charter by over 280 MPs from eight different parties.

The Charter, drafted by Great British Oceans (a coalition of the Blue Marine Foundation, Greenpeace, Marine Conservation Society, The Pew Trusts, RSPB and Zoological Society of London) asks for increased marine protection in the UK’s Overseas Territories.

Building on unprecedented public support for ocean preservation roused by the BBC’s Blue Planet II, backing for the Charter demonstrates overwhelming cross-party support for the UK Government and its Overseas Territories to re-affirm its leadership in marine conservation by delivering four key Blue Belt pledges:

  • 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

The Charter also calls 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.

Through the actions of successive governments, the UK and its Overseas Territories have together demonstrated global leadership in ocean conservation.

The Blue Belt Charter demonstrates public support and expectation for action, which is also reflected across the political parties. This should give confidence to the Conservative Government to deliver these ambitious Blue Belt pledges.

Charles Clover of the Blue Marine Foundation stated: “The Blue Belt is one of the greatest environmental commitments ever made.  But as the 280 MPs who support the Blue Belt Charter are aware, there needs to be a further, co-ordinated approach from government if we are to make sure the Blue Belt delivers for both nature and for the people of the Overseas Territories, thereby becoming something of which Britain can be truly proud .”

Willie Mackenzie for Greenpeace said: “The UK has a unique opportunity to play a global role in ocean conservation by protecting the waters around its Overseas Territories. That’s especially relevant right now in the Southern Ocean where a network of sanctuaries to protect unique wildlife is so urgently needed.”

Simon Reddy of The Pew Trusts commented: “By delivering the four Blue Belt Charter pledges the UK Government has the ability to work alongside/in partnership with the Overseas Territories and set the ‘Gold Standard’ in marine environmental protection and show global leadership – starting with full protection of the South Sandwich Islands. This is an opportunity not to be missed!”