The new year has got off to a promising start for marine life across the world. The UK government has committed to creating a marine reserve almost as large as the UK itself around one of its overseas territories: Ascension Island. Roughly mid-way between Africa and South America, the island is home to many species of fish found nowhere else in the world, including the creatively named ‘bastard cunningfish.' If there was ever a reason to preserve biodiversity, this might be it.
Silliness aside, this news is more than just a drop in the ocean. Since 2014 The Blue Marine Foundation, as part of the GB Oceans campaign, has been campaigning to secure a marine protected area around Ascension. Last year, thousands of global citizens took action to support this campaign, calling on David Cameron to use the UK’s unique position to create marine reserves around all of its overseas territories. The successful creation of a marine protected area around Ascension is a crucial victory on both a practical and symbolic level.
“Ascension has been at the frontier of science since Charles Darwin went there in the 19th century, so it is entirely appropriate that it is now at the centre of a great scientific effort to design the Atlantic’s largest marine reserve ” said Charles Clover, Executive Chairman of the Blue Marine Foundation.
Protecting the ocean is vital to our existence, and key to tackling both poverty and climate change. Not only do oceans produce half the oxygen we breathe, they absorb half the carbon dioxide we produce and 1 billion people across the world rely on fish and seafood as their main source of protein.
Now, 2-3% of the world’s oceans are protected, a much higher proportion than a few years ago but still far below the 30% recommended by scientists to preserve fish stocks and biodiversity. The creation of a marine reserve around Ascension is a powerful step that has the potential to catalyse further protection of the world’s oceans.
Now that the Global Goals have officially come into effect, it's possible to speed up the process and make sure our oceans receive the protection they deserve.
You can go to TAKE ACTION NOW to help achieve Goal 14: life below water, and call on David Cameron to create the biggest marine reserve on the planet.