3rd UK Overseas Territories Environment Ministers' Meeting attended by James Glass and Jim Kerr.

Tristan represented at Isle of Man UKOT Meeting

Report and photos from Jim Kerr

See also 7 minute film of the event:
3rd UKOT Environment Ministers' Isleof Man meeting video report

Tristan Representatives: Head of Fisheries James Glass (left)
with Deputy UK Government Representative Jim Kerr

On 6th and 7th February 2018 I attended the 3rd meeting of UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies Environment Ministers' Meeting in the Isle of Man. I was fortunate to be joined by James Glass, Island Councillor and Director of Fisheries. The meeting, jointly chaired by Prof. John Cortes (Gibraltar Minister for Education, Heritage, Environment, Energy and Climate Change) and Hon. Geoffrey Boot MHK (Isle of Man's Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture), was a great success covering a range of topics including the possible impacts of Brexit, climate change, the replacement of the European Development Fund that has enabled a number of infrastructure projects on Tristan, future trade with the EU and support for further development of renewable energy. There was also much talk about Blue Belt and the impact of plastics on the ocean.

Representatives gathered for the meeting

James and I were able to give Tristan's perspective particularly on its progress towards declaring a marine protection regime by 2020 while still retaining the objective of maintaining a sustainable lobster fishery and white fishery on Tristan's sea mounts, the hope that there will be a replacement for EDF enabling further infrastructure projects on the island and the impact of climate change which we believe to be responsible for the recent landslide events that have had a significant impact on the island's agriculture. We pointed out that if climate change were to raise sea temperatures in Tristan waters it could have a devastating effect on the lobster fishery and the island's economy

Delegates including Jim behind James, second from right.

We were also able to report on the Gough mice eradication project and made clear the importance of tariff free access to the EU for Tristan's fishery.

Delegates during a working session: Jim and James seated facing the camera.

On the final morning the conference was joined by Mr Ben Merrick, Director Overseas Territories representing Lord Ahmad, Minister for Overseas Territories, Dr Gemma Harper, Deputy Director for Marine Defra and Mr Huw Davies representing Hon Claire Perry MP Minister of State for Climate and Energy. Dr Therese Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defra joined the meeting via Skype.

Delegates during their tour of the Isle of Man: Jim far left and James second from right.

Following a useful discussion during which the representatives of the UK Government were able to listen to the needs and concerns of UKOTs and Crown Dependencies the meeting closed and all the delegates were treated to a tour round the Isle of Man.

James Glass stayed on after the conference to do some work with the Isle of Man Fishery Department.

Official Press Release

Good progress on issues of common interest at meeting of Environment Ministers from the UK's Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies

Ministers and senior officials from UK Overseas Territories (OTs) and Crown Dependencies (CDs) travelled to the Isle of Man this week to discuss the future of the environment in their jurisdictions.

This was the third Council of Environment Ministers of UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies and took place in Douglas, on 6th and 7th February. Previous meetings took place in Gibraltar in 2015 and continued in Alderney in 2017.

The meeting was hosted jointly by Geoffrey Boot MHK, the Isle of Man's Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, and Professor John Cortés, Gibraltar's Minister for Education, Heritage, Environment, Energy and Climate Change and co-ordinated by the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (UKOTCF), a non-governmental organisation.

The agenda for the meeting focussed on sustainability in the terrestrial and marine environment, climate change, the impact of natural disasters on communities, environmental resilience and the Isle of Man's designation as the first entire nation UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Common opportunities and challenges were discussed on issues such as the role of the environment in growing the economy, energy efficiency, sympathetic development, enforcement and the impact of plastics.

Delegates also discussed the opportunities resulting from, and challenges posed by, the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.

Minister Boot said: 'Although very different in character, our islands all boast beautiful environments that are important to our economies and our way of life and that we wish to retain and maximise the benefit from.

'The meeting was an excellent opportunity to share good practice and discuss common concerns and we learned a lot from meeting that we can put into effect in our islands.

'It was especially useful to discuss with the UK's Environment Minister, Dr Thérèse Coffey, how our jurisdictions can work together, and more closely with the UK, to ensure a coherent approach on matters such a plastic waste, ocean acidification and warming. Minister Coffey invited the group to join the UK's discussions on these matters.'

Professor Cortes said: 'The way our diverse territories work together in mutual support and for the protection and improvement of the environment and quality of life is our main strength and an example to others.

'We are looking at a sustainable future within our territories but have also recognised our responsibility beyond our shores. Most of us are islands and so we are also championing the future of our oceans by joining the stand against plastic pollution and working towards improvement of the biological status of the many kilometres of sea that are the responsibility of the United Kingdom.'

Hon. David Osborne, Montserrat's Minister for Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and Environment, said: 'By working as a group, we are much stronger in being able to achieve certain goals. Many of us are facing similar problems and, because of Brexit, much uncertainty remains. However, if we come together we can put forward ideas for ways to overcome these challenges, much can be achieved.'

Dr Mike Pienkowski, Chairman of UKOTCF, commented 'We have for over 30 years brought together groups of practitioners, decision makers and civil society across the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to share experiences and encouraged collective endeavour. This is now more relevant than ever, given the unique set of challenges faced by them especially in the face of climate change and some of the consequences of the UK's departure from the European Union. The meeting heard about the work of the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture to meet its international commitments and to support its fishing communities, which is huge interest to other jurisdictions.'

Ministers and representatives of the Falkland Islands, Pitcairn and St Helena, joined the meeting via Skype or other remote means.

A post-meeting statement charting the progress made will be agreed by delegates and published.

Following the formal business, Minister Boot escorted Ministers on an excursion to Tynwald, Milntown in Ramsey and the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture's headquarters in St John's, giving them the opportunity to see the Island.