The government of Tristan da Cunha announced last week that the 700,000 sq km of waters around will become a marine protected area (MPA), making it the fourth-largest such sanctuary in the world.
The community will safeguard the area’s wealth of wildlife, including seven-gill sharks, the globally threatened Yellow-nosed albatross, and Atlantic petrel, rockhopper penguins, and other birds that live there. The UK will be responsible for the long-term monitoring and enforcement of this vast area – three times the size of Britain and 2,400km from the nearest habitation, Saint Helena.
In general, the UK has a duty to protect wildlife found in all its territories and has a target in place to protect 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) described the creation of the new MPA as the “jewel in the crown of UK marine protection”.
“Tristan da Cunha is a place like no other. The waters that surround this remote UK overseas territory are some of the richest in the world. Tens of millions of seabirds soar above the waves, penguins and seals cram on to the beaches, threatened sharks breed offshore and mysterious whales feed in the deep-water canyons. From today, we can say all of this is protected.” said the nonprofit’s chief executive, Beccy Speight.
Tristan da Cunha lies in the South Atlantic Ocean and has recorded population of 245 people.