Leading non-governmental organisations, scientists and universities join MPs and Great British Oceans to back the Blue Belt Charter
Over 50 prominent international and domestic marine and environmental Non-Governmental Organisations, eminent scientists and world-leading Universities have today united to hold the UK Government accountable for its ‘Blue Belt’ policy commitment. This amplifies the support from 285 MPs, from eight parties who pledged their support to the ‘Blue Belt Charter’.
The Charter, outlined by Great British Oceans (a coalition of the Blue Marine Foundation, Greenpeace-UK, Marine Conservation Society, The Pew Trusts, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Zoological Society of London) requests the long-term protection of over four million km² of marine environment across the UK Overseas Territories.
Backing for the Charter demonstrates overwhelming support for the UK Government and its Overseas Territories to reaffirm its leadership in marine conservation by delivering four key Blue Belt pledges:
1. Establish a 500,000 km² fully protected Marine Protected Area around the South Sandwich Islands in 2018
The islands host nearly half of the world’s chinstrap penguin population (1.3 million breeding pairs). Whale species include southern right, sei, fin, humpback, minke, blue and sperm whales.
2. Deliver on the commitment to establish a fully protected Marine Protected Area in at least 50% of Ascension Island’s waters in 2019
Ascension’s waters harbour the second-largest green turtle breeding population in the Atlantic, a unique frigatebird species and some of the largest recorded Atlantic blue marlin.
3. Support the establishment of a locally-led marine protection regime throughout the waters of Tristan da Cunha by 2020
More than 90% of the world population of northern rockhopper penguins breed at the Tristan islands.
4. Strengthen the development of the locally-led marine protection regime throughout the waters of St Helena
Whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean, are recorded in high numbers around St Helena.
By delivering on these commitments, in addition to existing protected areas around the Pitcairn Islands and the British Indian Ocean Territory, the UK Government and its Overseas Territories will have collectively placed four million km² of ocean under protection. The Charter 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.
The Blue Belt Charter demonstrates support and expectation for action, which is also reflected across eight political parties. This should give confidence to the Conservative Government, the Secretary of State the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, to deliver these ambitious Blue Belt pledges.