Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited islands in the world, is creating the fourth largest marine reserve on the planet.

The reserve will cover 699 km2 in the south Atlantic Ocean and will protect tuna, tens of millions of sea birds, 90% of the world’s south atlantic fur seals, 80% of northern rockhopper penguins, nurseries of endangered blue sharks, rare chequered beak whales and other wildlife.

Rockhopper penguin by Dr. Robert Ricker, courtesy NOOA

James Glass, chief islander and director of fisheries, told the BBC

The sanctuary will give the wildlife a greater protection than it currently has and hopefully with that it will bring more researchers to the islands and set an example for other communities around the world.

He continued

If the world’s remotest community can make a difference by protecting 90% of their waters they depend on to survive surely this will give inspiration to politicians to make the right choices to tackle climate change and to protect he world’s oceans.

Trawlers will be banned entirely. Fishing will be allowed only on 40% of the sea mounts. All tuna fishing will cease.

The British Overseas Territory will depend on satellite surveillance to enforce the reserve. It is supported in its efforts by the UK Government, RSPB, National Geographic Pristine Seas, Blue Nature Alliance, Becht Family Charitable Trust together with Blue Marine Foundation, Wyss Foundation, Kaltroco, Don Quixote II Foundation, British Antarctic Survey, University of Plymouth & the Natural History Museum. The reserve will be three times the size of the UK.

Unesco describe the World Heritage site of two of the uninhabited islands – Gough and Inaccessible Islands – as one of the least-disrupted island and marine ecosystems in the cool temperate zone.

Enric Sala, National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, said:

“It is testament to the vision of the Tristan da Cunha community that one of the world’s smallest communities can make the single biggest contribution to global marine conservation this year. We can all look to Tristan for inspiration as the world commences a decade of work to protect 30% of the global ocean by 2030.

Main photo credit: Lieutenant Elizabeth Crapo, courtesy NOOA


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