South Georgia is a long way away from here but is a UK Overseas Territory thanks to Captain Cook coming across it in 1775. I’m glad it is aligned with the UK but I’d have to admit it’s a bit of a fluke and a bit odd. However, we now know that this UKOT is one of the richest marine areas anywhere on the planet for wildlife – which comes as a bit of a surprise, but can’t be totally unrelated to the fact that it is a remote distant place whose seas haven’t been trawled and fished intensively.
Everything (almost everything) in that part of the world feeds on krill – the penguins, the seals, the whales and the albatrosses (either directly or indirectly) and now factory ships are hoovering up krill for fish meal to feed to farmed salmon and for krill oil to make us feel healthy. How many penguins starve to put cheap pink farmed salmon on your plate?
Hugh F-W made the point very well, I thought. Why don’t we just do something amazing and stop fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (and Pitcairn, and the Falklands, and Ascension Island…)? The economic cost is tiny – the feeling of moral smugness is immense – and the protection of marine biodiversity is a lasting and meaningful legacy.
And, it has to be said, it’s not as though Defra is doing a remotely adequate job closer to our own shores where its miserable record in protecting the best parts of our marine environment is embarrassing.
I’m looking forward to Monday’s march across Westminster Bridge to demand that our government designates a full suite of marine protected areas around our coasts.