The UK government is being urged to create vast marine reserves around three overseas territories from a group of more than 100 individuals and organisations, including actress Helena Bonham Carter.
The Blue Marine Foundation, which has spearhead the campaign as part of the Marine Reserves Coalition, explains that the UK has the fifth largest marine zone in the world, mostly around overseas territories. The group of environmentalists want the waters off the Ascension Island, the Pitcairn Islands and South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands fully protected. If these areas were protected it would mean that more than 1.75 million kilometres squared of ocean would be safeguarded.
An open letter signed by those involved notes that such a move would make a “globally significant contribution” to ocean conservation at “very little cost”. As well as Bonham Carter, signatories include actresses Greta Scacchi and Gillian Anderson, and a range of scientists and environmental leaders.
Bonham Carter, who also stripped off to be photographed with a bigeye tuna to support the campaign, said, “We all have a responsibility to try and return our world to the next generation in the state we inherited it, not worse. It would be a sad thing if in our dotage we’d be describing tuna fish to our grandchildren like we do a dodo today.”
The UK government is currently considering the proposals, more than 94% of the UK’s biodiversity is found in its overseas territories and some species are found nowhere else in the world. Rare whales, turtles, fish, penguins and albatrosses are among the wildlife that would benefit from the vast ocean reserves.
Charles Clover, chairman of the Blue Marine Foundation, commented, “If we are serious about reversing the problem of overfishing in the world’s oceans all agree we need large marine reserves. Britain has probably the biggest global opportunity to create them in strategic places – including the first major one on the tropical Atlantic. It has 14 overseas territories and it should be thinking about protecting large areas in as many of them as possible.”
Photo: Maurizio Carta via Freeimages