Gough Island blue-shark 'nursery' highlighted

Tristan's vast 'Blue Belt' celebrated at London events

Report and images from Tristan Government UK Representative Chris Carnegy

Pupils from St Mary's School on Tristan
who sent a video message to the Blue Belt Symposium

The Blue Belt Symposium's main poster showed a view of Tristan da Cunha

The contribution of Tristan da Cunha's Marine Protection Zone to the UK's 'Blue Belt' of conserved ocean was celebrated at a series of events in London, held 26th-29th February 2024.

Above: Opening slide introducing Chris Carnegy's presentation
Below: Chris making his ptresentation with archive photos showing 
Tristan islanders' catch of crawfish, now known as Tristan Rock Lobster

A symposium studied the protection measures that have been established across UK Overseas Territories from the Pacific to the Antarctic, with the huge Tristan MPZ contributing one-sixth of its worldwide scope.

Above: Chris with Prof. Jessica Meeuwig

Left: Chris with Lord Benyon

I met UK environment minister Lord Richard Benyon in advance of his opening keynote speech, which included a message of warm support from His Majesty King Charles. 

The symposium brought a chance to learn about other islands' experience with the Blue Belt: how they are managing their zones, how their staffing is arranged, what marine science they undertake and how their communities are engaged. I gave a presentation about Tristan's Blue Belt journey, stressing the importance of local ownership of the initiative and describing discoveries such as the blue-shark 'nursery' found off Gough Island.

Chris with Dr Eleanor Adamson

A linked event saw Professor Jessica Meeuwig of the University of Western Australia, whose network of underwater cameras had found the shark nursery, lead discussion on future use of the imagery and the fish data it enables. I was able to link Prof Meeuwig by phone with Chief Islander James Glass, ahead of a trip to Gough where he hopes to deploy the cameras again.

I also met Dr Eleanor Adamson of the Fishmongers' Company Fisheries Charitable Trust. The Trust plans to support a scientist from the UK to undertake research work at Tristan.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron addressing Symposium delegates

Alongside the main sessions was an exhibition, featuring fish samples from Tristan's waters and a video message from young Tristanians, and a reception where I met the UK Foreign Secretary. Lord David Cameron namechecked Tristan in a speech that was passionately proud of what the Blue Belt has achieved.