This blog has argued for the UK government to work with the administrations of the UK Overseas Territories to create massive marine conservation zones. If we have the relicts of an empire we might as well use them to protect the world’s natural resources.
Today 100+ people including a bunch of top bods of environmental organisations (including the RSPB, Greenpeace and Pew Environment Fund), scientists (such as Callum Roberts, Sylvia Earle and Dan Pauly), actresses (Greta Scacchi, Gillian Anderson, Helena Bonham Carter, Julie Christie and Zoe Wanamaker (by the way, boys, where are the actors?)), and other well-known folk (eg George Monbiot, Chris Packham, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall) and a few other folk (including me) signed the following letter which appeared in The Times:
The UK has the fifth largest area of ocean in the world under its jurisdiction when its overseas territories (UKOTs) are taken into account. More than 94 per cent of the UK’s unique biodiversity is found in the UKOTs, which support a large number of rare and threatened species and habitats found nowhere else on Earth. It makes good economic and environmental sense for the UK to work with its territories to establish effective networks of marine protected areas throughout all waters under UK jurisdiction.
We urge the British government to protect over 1.75 million km² of the world’s oceans by creating large-scale and fully-protected marine reserves in three of the UKOTs — the Pitcairn Islands, Ascension Island, and South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. This would make a globally significant contribution to ocean conservation, leaving a historic legacy for people and wildlife at very little cost.
The last Labour administration saved up creating the marine zone around the Chagos archipelago until close to election time. I suspect we will get good news on this front before 30 March too. And so we should.