For sustainable society


The largest marine protected area in the Atlantic Ocean

The British government has designated approximately 440,000 square kilometers around Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean as a marine protected area. The largest marine protected area in the Atlantic Ocean has been established. The designation of this protected area is intended to safeguard ecosystems such as green turtles, sooty terns and swordfishes living in this area.

In early August, the Ascension Island Council had announced that they decided to prohibit commercial fishing other than self-sufficient fishing and mining by local communities in this area. In reaction to the determination, the UK government promised financial support for its realization. It was a major step towards the global goal of protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.

You may think that Ascension Island is one of the most secluded islands in the world when you see a map; however, the island itself is the summit of the submarine volcano, and the mid-Atlantic ridge, one of the “world’s longest mountain ranges” is under the sea. The island is famous as a spawning area for green turtles and is an important breeding area for many migratory birds such as sooty terns. In addition, swordfishes and sharks are living in marine areas around the island.

In 2015, a plan was created to establish one of the world’s largest marine protected areas, focusing on the waters surrounding Britain’s overseas territories: Ascension Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific Ocean, British Antarctic Territory and British Indian Ocean Territory were included. This program, also called the “Blue Belt Program”, is designed to protect the 4 million square kilometer marine environment around the world.

In fact, this program was brought closer to realization by remote monitoring and management using satellites. Now marine resources can be protected from overfishing without reconnaissance aircraft or patrol ships like before, even on isolated islands such as Ascension Island. The island’s marine protection program has been steadily advancing with the support of local residents and is expected to become a model case for future marine protection.

Photo:Mother Nature Network