UK set to protect four million square kilometres of ocean

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With was the main announcement of the Our Ocean Conference led at Washington, USA, on the 15th of September.

Obama also announced the creation of giant MPA around the New England shores.




  • The announcements include the designation of protected areas around St Helena and Pitcairn and a commitment to designate marine protection zones around Ascension by 2019 and Tristan da Cunha by 2020.

  • St. Helena’s 444,916km² maritime environment is home to over forty endemic species and supports a diverse array of marine life including whale sharks, humpbacks and turtles.

  • Ascension Island’s 445,390km² maritime environment hosts globally important biodiversity, including the largest green turtle rookery in the Atlantic. At least half of this area will be permanently closed to commercial fishing by 2019.

  • At 750,510km², Tristan da Cunha’s future protected area will be the largest in the South Atlantic. It will also surround Gough Island – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the Northern Rockhopper Penguin and the Tristan Albatross.

  • The Pitcairn Islands host a marine environment covering around 840,000 km². Pitcairn’s waters provide an exceptionally well preserved ecosystem of corals and species of fish, some of which are found nowhere else on earth. The new MPA will permanently close this entire area to commercial fishing.

  • In 2013, South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) declared a sustainable use MPA across more than 1 million km2.


Here are the other announcements made by other countries at te conference:



Marine Protected Areas

  • Malta announced the designation of nine new marine protected areas comprising roughly 3,450 square kilometers, covering an area significantly larger than the country itself (316 square kilometers).
  • Cambodia announced the establishment of its first marine protected area, which covers 405 square kilometers in the waters of the Koh Rong Archipelago.
  • Lebanon announced its intent to establish a 30 square kilometer marine protected area in Naqoura and Ras ech Chaqaa.
  • The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in partnership with the Waitt Foundation and Blue Moon fund, announced a commitment of a minimum of $15 million for the creation of the WCS Marine Protected Area (MPA) Fund in an effort to meet or exceed the Aichi and the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets of protecting 10 percent of the ocean by 2020. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced a commitment of $33 million for the fund, resulting in a combined investment of $48 million in new resources for the expansion and improved effectiveness of MPAs across the world’s oceans by 2020.
  • Costa Rica announced that it will expand the protected waters of the Cocos Island National Park by almost 10,000 square kilometers, which will nearly quadruple this area in an effort to safeguard white-tip sharks, whale sharks, and hammerhead sharks‎, among others.
  • Monaco announced that it has provided approximately $563,000 (EUR 500,000) to start a newly created trust fund set up with France and Tunisia that will provide long-term financial support to marine protected areas (MPAs) designated by Mediterranean countries; this fund will enhance existing MPAs, encourage the creation of additional MPAs, foster capacity-building, and complement existing initiatives.
  • Seychelles announced that it will establish up to 400,000 square kilometers of marine protected area (30 percent of its EEZ) by 2020 as part of a comprehensive marine spatial plan for its entire EEZ via a debt swap of up to $27 million with its Paris Club creditors and the Government of South Africa, with the support of the Nature Conservancy and private capital investors interested in marine conservation.
  • The United States announced the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii to cover an additional 1,146,798 square kilometers, creating the world’s largest marine protected area and permanently protecting pristine coral reefs, deep sea marine habitats, and important ecological resources. The United States also announced the establishment of new marine monument of 12,725 square kilometers covering New England Canyons and Seamounts.
  • Malaysia announced the establishment of the 10,000 square kilometer Tun Mustapha Park marine protected area and a project to build Park enforcement capacity with $250,000 from the United States and $50,000 from WildAid.
  • The United Kingdom announced the designation of a sustainable use marine protected area throughout whole of St. Helena's 445,000 square kilometer maritime zone and the final establishment of the marine protected area around the Pitcairn Islands that it proposed in 2014, which permanently closes more than 99 percent of the 840,000 square kilometer maritime zone around the Islands – 40,000 square kilometers more than originally planned. The United Kingdom also announced a roadmap to determine the exact location of an evidence-based fully protected marine protected area around Ascension Island covering at least 220,000 square kilometers by 2019 and a commitment to establish a regime for protecting the waters across the entire 750,000 square kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone in Tristan da Cunha by 2020. In total, this amounts to 1,455,000 square kilometers in new MPA commitments. The United Kingdom furthermore pledged more than $22 million (EUR 20 million) over the next four years to support the implementation, management, surveillance, and enforcement of these new marine protected areas.
  • Sri Lanka announced the 292 square kilometer Veduthalathiv Nature Reserve marine protected area, as well as nearly 800 square kilometers in four new marine protected areas of habitat for marine mammals, coral, migratory and shore birds, and other marine life: the Mirissa and Kayankanni MPAs, part of the Gulf of Mannar, and the Jaffna Lagoon Sanctuary. Sri Lanka will set aside an additional 86.05 square kilometers of Associated Marine Protected Areas in lands bound by marine ecosystems: the Nai Aru lagoon and Nandikadal sanctuaries.
  • Sri Lanka announced that it will establish a sea turtle conservation complex at Dodanduwa in the Southern province to treat and provide a sanctuary for injured turtles and educate the local community, to be completed this year.
  • Panama announced $600,000 to promote and implement best practices in dolphin and whale watching tourism activities, including knowledge and capacity building workshops for local communities and construction of environmentally friendly infrastructure to promote safe distance watching practices in Coiba National Park and Bastimentos National Park in order to reduce human impacts to local dolphin and migrating whale populations.
  • The Federated States of Micronesia announced its commitment to expand out to 24 nautical miles around each island its marine protected area that prohibits commercial fishing, therein protecting an additional 184,948 square kilometers of its ocean waters.
  • Colombia announced that it will quadruple the size of the Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, which hosts one of the world's largest aggregations of sharks, so that it will cover an additional 20,237 square kilometers.
  • Canada reaffirmed its commitment to meet marine conservation targets, including the commitment to protect 5% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020. Contributing towards this goal and building on previous actions, Canada announced plans to protect sensitive benthic ecosystems in the Gulf of Maine through fisheries closures in Jordan Basin and in Corsair and Georges Canyons, amounting to a total area of over 9,000 square kilometers on Canada’s Atlantic Coast. These new protection measures in the Atlantic join the soon to be established Anguniaqvia Niqiqyuam Marine Protected ‎Area in Canada’s western Arctic and the Hecate Strait/Queen Charlotte Sound Marine Protected Area, on Canada’s Pacific coast. The protection of these marine areas on Canada’s three coasts, combined with Canada’s plans for a National Marine Conservation Area in Lancaster Sound in Canada’s Arctic, will total over 58,121 square kilometers of new marine protection by 2017 for Canada and the world’s oceans.
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts announced a partnership with the Bertarelli Foundation to provide $30 million to support ocean conservation and marine reserves.
Edited by jeremie

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