Tristan da Cunha Conservation News
News and reports from the Tristan da Cunha Government's Conservation Department.

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Tristan represented at Isle of Man UKOT Meeting

3rd UK Overseas Territories Environment Ministers' Meeting attended by James Glass and Jim Kerr.
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Cefas officer assists Tristan with Blue Belt Work

Report and photos from Tristan Administrator Sean Burns

Oliver Yates and Warren Glass at Calshot Harbour prior to
boarding MFV Edinburgh as observers on a longline fishing trip on 2nd February 2018

Oliver Yates recently joined Cefas (UK Government Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) and is assisting Tristan with its Blue Belt work. Oli came out on the RMS St Helena in January and we were pleased he was able to stay on and get to know the island and what its Blue Belt aspirations and priorities are. Oli spent a good amount of time with the fisheries and conservation teams to understand the important work they all do. This included trips to Nightingale and around Tristan.

Pupils and staff of St Mary's School taking part in a beach plastic collection.

Oliver also gave a presentation to the community, the school and to the visiting cruise ship, Seaborn Sojourn. He also organised a few trips to collect plastics (including one with the school) so we can start to analyse the extent of the problem we have with plastics in the waters around the Tristan archipelago.  What is out there and where it comes from.

MFV Edinburgh at Tristan on 2nd February 2018

On 2nd February 2018, Oli joined Tristan Fisheries Officer Warren Glass as the observers aboard on MFV Edinburgh's latest longline trip which is expected to last ten days. 

Blue Belt Update

Report from Dr Martin Collins

I am Dr Martin Collins, Principal Scientist, in the Blue Belt Programme, based in the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science. As part of the Blue Belt initiative, Cefas and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) are working together with the UK Overseas Territories to provide long term protection of over four million square kilometres of marine environment.

In my role as Science Lead for the Atlantic territories I recently joined my colleagues, Programme Director Craig McGarvey and Senior Marine Science Advisor Oliver Yates, on a visit to Tristan da Cunha to discuss progress, engage with the local community, and start establishing the next steps in the Blue Belt Plan for this Overseas Territory.

Map from Cefas shows the Tristan da Cunha Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
and the inset it's position realtive to Southern Africa and South America in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Situated midway between Brazil and South Africa in the South Atlantic Ocean, Tristan da Cunha is part of the Tristan archipelago and is the most remote inhabited island on Earth. The island has a population of only 260 inhabitants but is surrounded by a 750,000 km2 exclusive economic zone, which spans a number of unique and rich ecosystems. These ecosystems support globally significant seabird populations, as well as hosting a small, local fishing industry. The Tristan archipelago is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Blue Belt programme is assisting local experts to protect this biodiversity whilst at the same time supporting the sustainable livelihoods of the island’s residents, for whom the fishing industry provides the island’s main source of revenue, jobs and food.

Approaching Tristan aboard RMS St Helena

Our journey from Cape Town to the Tristan archipelago took 5 days aboard the vessel RMS St Helena. Unfortunately, we encountered some typically challenging South Atlantic weather when we approached the island’s capital – “Edinburgh of the Seven Seas”. We therefore had to remain sheltered between islands for several days before we could disembark.

The Tristan Settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas from the RMS St Helena

After getting ashore, Craig and I were met at Calshot Harbour by the Territory’s Administrator, Sean Burns. We then carried out an inspection of the island’s largest vessel, the Wave Dancer, which has an important role as a fisheries patrol boat.

We also undertook a tour of the lobster processing plant in the company of Governor Lisa Phillips, Sean Burns and Warren Glass. Warren is an elected councillor and member of the Fisheries Department team. The plant plays a key role in supporting the MSC-certified Tristan lobster fishery and the tour gave us the chance to discuss fisheries and marine management issues with the Governor, Administrator and Warren.

Tristan's Calshot Harbour showing fishing boats front, with RMS St Helena at anchor behind

Building partnerships and collaborations for a lasting legacy

Satellite research that we commissioned in partnership with OceanMind and Catapult is also informing the work we are doing with the Island administration. The following heat map indicates the close proximity of the many transatlantic bulk carriers as they travel past the islands.

Heat Map showing tracks of transatlantic bulk carriers from OceanMind/Catapult

Working with the administration we are seeking to improve the management of the potential pollution risk of bulk carriers and transatlantic vessels running aground. This is a real risk, as seen in 2011, when the MS Oliva ran aground and leaked significant amounts of oil, resulting in damage to the delicate ecosystem.

Craig McGarvey and I then headed towards St. Helena, while Oliver Yates remains on Tristan to work with the Fisheries and Conservation Departments on identifying areas in which further support is required to deliver sustainable fisheries management. Blue Belt experts will continue to work with their local counterparts on fisheries management and carry out a monitoring trip aboard the longline vessel, tracking bluenose warehou fish later in February. Bluenose warehou are one of the three species of warehou in the waters around Tristan. The island supplies around 25% of the total global catch of this species. Monitoring the use of this resource will help ensure stocks are truly sustainable in the long-term.

Image from SeaFIC

Although brief, the visit to Tristan was extremely valuable, and enabled us to see the island first hand, discuss the programme with members of the community and local government. Further engagement activities and projects are now underway to integrate the knowledge and experience of community and local experts into the Blue Belt’s scientific investigations which are planned over the coming years. I hope these valuable partnerships will form the basis of a lasting legacy of collaboration and sustainability for the next generation of Tristan’s marine scientists.

A humpback whale photographed by V Laptikhovsky in Tristan waters

Blue Belt Representatives to visit Tristan in January 2018

RMS St Helena's final Tristan voyage brings MMO and Cefas scientists to Tristan
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Wildlife at Runaway Beach

November 5th sightings of seals and penguins.
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Project Pinnamin Edinburgh Workshop

Edinburgh Zoo hosts the Northern Rockhopper penguin - Species Action Plan workshop.
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House of Commons motion congratulates Tristan Post Office

Role in drawing attention to conservation issues highlighted
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Molly nesting at new site on mountain cliffs

Atlantic Yellow Nosed Albatross extends its recent breeding site range.
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Creating a Blue Belt around the Tristan da Cunha Islands

Update on progress towards a bespoke marine protection zone by 2020
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