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

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Community Braai to Celebrate the Tristan MPZ

Report and photos from James Glass and Kelly Green

On Sunday the 10th October 2021, the Chief Islander, James Glass, held a community braai (barbeque) to celebrate Tristan da Cunha declaring the largest Marine Protected Zone (MPZ) in the Atlantic Ocean, in November 2020. The MPZ covers a massive 687,247km2! An area almost 3 times as big as the UK!

The braai was held in the Prince Philip Hall at 12.30, and was a great festivity with everyone coming together. It was a genuine island effort. Island ladies made so many tasty salads, bread rolls and garlic breads. Some men walked up to the base to get the mutton, and even Tourism's bakery made hotdog rolls for everyone to dig into. Some island men slaved away cooking over the hot braais all day, so everyone could enjoy a bountiful meal!

James Glass (Chief islander) made a passionate speech expressing thanks to Andy Schofield (RSPB) for the money they contributed towards the celebration, and recognising all the other organisations that have helped Tristan achieve such an extensive no take zone - a massively noble thing to do for our world's oceans! He also thanked his lovely wife Felicity for all her hard work and organisation for the day's events, and showed gratitude to all that helped and contributed.

It really was a family fun filled day for all!

Preparating and Cooking the Meats

Tristan and Kieran Glass preparing the lobster Job done - lobster tails ready for  the braai
Tristan and Kieran Glass preparing the lobster tails for the braai. Photo: James Glass
Julian Repetto and Simon Glass keeping an eye on the sausages Co-Admnistrator Steve Townsend, Riaan Repetto and another waiting for the sausages
Julian Repetto, Simon Glass, and Riaan Repetto keeping an eye on the sausages. Photos: James Glass
The BBQ team (left to right): Cedric Swain, Simon Glass, Tristan Glass, Julian Repetto, Shane Green, Rodney Green, Steve Swain, Dean Repetto, Riaan Repetto, and Larry Swain
The BBQ team (left to right): Cedric Swain, Simon Glass, Tristan Glass, Julian Repetto, Shane Green, Rodney Green,
Steve Swain, Dean Repetto, Riaan Repetto, and Larry Swain. Photo: James Glass
Larry Swain seasoning the meat on the braai Turning the meat on the braai
Larry Swain seasoning, and Steve Swain & Shane Green turning the meat on the braai. Photo: James Glass

The food laid out in Prince Philip Hall

Breads laid out in Prince Philip Hall
Above: Breads. Below: Salads. Photos: James Glass
Salads laid out in Prince Philip Hall
The meats: Lamb, Pork rashers, Sausages (Russians, Cheeso, Braaiwors), and Lobster
The meats: lamb, pork rashers, sausages (Russians, Cheeso, Braaiwors), and lobster. Photo: James Glass

The Chief Islander's Speech at the BBQ Celebration

"I would like to welcome everyone who has come to celebrate the implementation of our Marine Protection Zone. As you are all aware, Tristan da Cunha's community has legally secured the Atlantic's largest fully-protected marine reserve.
This has been the result of years of work, and we are proud to have made such a significant contribution to conservation. However, it would not have been possible without the generous support of the UK Blue Belt Programme, as well as many partners, notably the RSPB.
This celebration was put off so we could say a huge thank you to Andy Schofield who represents the RSPB, and who made a contribution today. Andy is one of the few people who I think understands the difficulties Tristanians face, balancing conservation measures with our livelihood. Now I am not sure if this is because he has made 12 trips to Tristan on a working holiday, or because he has been groomed by Trevor. Either way, we are grateful for all his support, and I would like him to reiterate our thanks to RSPB. We will be designing a South Atlantic Guardians Logo, and the islanders will all be getting a T-shirt or fleece with it on early next year. I would also like to thank the Administrators Fiona and Steve, for their contribution in seeing that all the terms and conditions have been stated in legal terms to ensure Tristan gets what it has been promised. It may seem like they haven't achieved much, but they have been working tirelessly behind the scenes, and Covid has prevented all of us from getting the people here to start making a difference - PWD, Education, Engineers for the internet, etc.
Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you for all the helpers too many to mention, as quite suddenly after debating about the weather, I only made my mind up to have this Braai yesterday afternoon, but it was the only opportunity I had whilst Andy was still here. I would like to say and big thank you to Lorraine and her staff for going to the shop yesterday, helping me get what I needed, for Shane and Steve for going on the mountain for the mutton we are having today, for Shirley and Tourism for doing the hotdog rolls, for Larry the Braai master and his team, the Island Council and everyone who has contributed, and especially Felicity who has constantly reminded me what I needed to get, or what I had forgotten.
On behalf of the community I would also like to welcome all those who came on the Agulhas II and those who will be leaving, especially Dr Alex & Sally, and Dr Silvio who I believe are just going on holiday and coming back again. So we look forward to seeing you both in the near future.
Hope you all enjoy the rest of the day, and I will hand you over to Andy
Otherwise many thanks to you all."

Andy Schofield of the RSPB then gave an impromptu speech, thanking everyone who has always made him welcome over the past years, and saying how proud the islanders should be as a community for the contribution we have made to the whole world.

James Glass giving his speech in Prince Philip Hall Andy Schofield expressing his thanks to the community in Prince Philip Hall
In Prince Philip Hall, James Glass gives his speech and Andy Schofield expresses his thanks to the community.
Photos: Kelly Green

Milestone as Tristan publishes its Marine Management Plan

Announcement from the Tristan da Cunha Government, 21st September 2021

Front cover of the Marine Management Plan
    - Full Plan [72 pages - 16.7MB]
    - Summary Plan [16 pages - 7.7MB]

UK Overseas Territory in South Atlantic secures protection and sustainable future of biodiverse marine environment as new legislation passed and management plan approved.

  • Legislation to ratify no-take Marine Protection Zone of nearly 700,000 square kilometres now legally secured by Tristan da Cunha Government, officially banning all extractive activities, including fishing.
  • A five-year Marine Management Plan has also been approved, setting out the goals and actions for the pro-active management of Tristan da Cunha's entire marine environment.
  • These two new developments secure the protection and active management of a vast area of the South Atlantic, home to unique and rare species such as the Tristan albatross and Tristan rock lobster

Home to the world's remotest human settlement, the small island community of Tristan da Cunha has now legally secured one of the largest Marine Protection Zones (MPZ) in the world.

Building on the announcement in November 2020 to designate the MPZ, it has now been ratified into law by the Tristan da Cunha Government. The Tristan da Cunha Marine Ordinance (passed 14 August) officially closes off areas of ocean previously exposed to fishing and other extractive activities, meaning a tangible positive impact for these environments.

On top of this milestone, Tristan da Cunha have today published a five-year Marine Management Plan for their entire Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Management Plan sets out the detail of how Tristan da Cunha's EEZ (including the MPZ) is actively managed and enforced, ultimately ensuring the sustainable management of a huge area of ocean.

Today's announcement is a significant next step for this Overseas Territory. The new Management Plan is a crucial blueprint which sets out evidence-based goals and actions for the management of this pristine marine environment. This will guide how the Tristan community and relevant stakeholders use their marine environment, ensuring protective measures are met and preventing prohibited activities.

The Tristan da Cunha economy and population of around 250 people is reliant on its marine environment and the benefits it brings. These two developments ensure a sustainable future for this remote community.

Since November, the UK Government's Blue Belt Programme, the RSPB and other key partners have continued to assist Tristan da Cunha in ratifying the MPZ and developing the Management Plan, to ensure day-to-day management and protective measures are enforced across the EEZ.

James Glass, Chief Islander, Tristan da Cunha, commented:

"I am delighted to present today the five-year Marine Management Plan for our EEZ, which along with the recent designation of our Marine Protection Zone, forms an essential element of our commitment to protect the pristine waters of Tristan da Cunha. Tristan da Cunha is one of the first participants in the UK Government Blue Belt Programme to come to the project with both a permanent population and an existing commercial fishery.
"I wish to thank the Blue Belt Programme, and many others, notably the RSPB, who have been valuable partners in helping Tristan da Cunha reach this milestone.
"The Tristan community, although small, has always been deeply committed to conservation and understand only too well that the sea is our vital resource, for our economy and thus the livelihood and wellbeing of the islanders, and we're proud that we can play a key role in preserving the health of the oceans. I hope others will be inspired to follow our example."

Lord Goldsmith, UK Minister for the Environment, commented:

"It's been fantastic to follow Tristan's journey over recent years as they progressed towards securing the protection of their wonderful marine environment. The new Marine Protection Zone legislation and Management Plan are significant milestones and make this Atlantic community a leading global example of how we can both secure the protection of our ocean, and work with it in a sustainable way.
"I congratulate the Tristan community, the Blue Belt Programme and key organisations such as the RSPB on reaching this landmark point in their journey towards protecting and enhancing this fantastic marine environment."

Jonathan Hall, Head of UK Overseas Territories at the RSPB, commented:

"Tristan's 250 people have now created the Atlantic's largest fully-protected marine reserve, the fourth largest on the planet. Their environmental leadership is astounding, and provides vital protections for vast penguin, albatross, shark and whale populations. It has been a privilege to work with this far-sighted community as they take on their new role as key guardians of the Atlantic.

Using the new Marine Management Plan, the Blue Belt Programme will continue to assist the Tristan da Cunha community with the active and effective management of its EEZ, including:

  • Supporting compliance and enforcement to mitigate illegal activity.
  • Providing scientific advice and monitoring to inform management and protection.
  • Developing capacity and skills on-island via training and guidance.
  • Securing infrastructure such as through the provision of relevant equipment.

Tristan da Cunha is a biodiversity hotspot in the South Atlantic, and is home to unique and vulnerable marine species, such as Tristan albatrosses, sevengill sharks, Tristan rock lobster and northern rockhopper penguins.

Background information:

  • In November 2020 Tristan da Cunha announced the designation of a Marine Protection Zone across nearly 700,000 square kilometres of ocean, covering over 90% of their EEZ. In September 2021, this MPZ was legally secured by the Tristan da Cunha Government.
  • As of 2021, organisations providing direct operational, technical and financial support to marine management actions by Tristan da Cunha Government and the island community include: UK Government's Blue Belt Programme (including Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, and the Marine Management Organisation), RSPB with the Blue Nature Alliance, British Antarctic Survey, Marine Resource Assessment and Management Group and Ovenstone Agencies.
  • The Tristan da Cunha Marine Management Plan is a document that details the active and day-to-day management of its EEZ. It outlines to relevant stakeholders and marine resources users how the marine environment can and cannot be used and how it will be managed, in line with Tristan's Marine Protection Strategy.
  • The Blue Belt Programme is a UK Government initiative to enhance marine protection across over 4 million square kilometres of marine environment in the UK Overseas Territories.
  • Tristan joins other Overseas Territories part of the Blue Belt Programme who protect their waters with the support of this initiative, including Ascension Island, the British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands, the Pitcairn Islands and St Helena - covering an area 17 times the size of the UK and over one percent of the Earth's entire ocean.
  • This flagship Programme has been central to the UK Government's ambition of leading action to tackle the serious global problems of illegal fishing, species extinction and climate change. The Programme has underpinned the UK's 25 Year Environment Plan and supported the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals. More recently, it has supported the UK's commitment to ensure 30% of the world's oceans are protected by 2030.

SA Agulhas II arrives at Gough as project starts in earnest

Report and images from RSPB's Antje Steinfurth and Sophie Thomas

SA Agulhas II arriving at Gough Island on 3rd June 2021

SA Agulhas II arrived at Gough Island on 3rd June 2021 to herald the most crucial phase of the £9 million RSPB-organised Gough Restoration Project.

The vessel carried four helicopters that were deployed to transfer the incoming team, equipment and supplies ashore. This included specialist bait produced in New Zealand that will be distributed by helicopter across all of the island's surface to attract and eliminate invasive house mice that have caused havoc to the native fauna by predating on breeding sea and land birds and their eggs.

Stores being lifted onto SA Agulhas II's helideck on 3rd June

A temporary helihanger has been constructed on the island in order to be able to service the helicopters as well as temporary helipads for the planned flights. The Agulhas II will return to Cape Town as soon as unloading has been completed and will return later in the year, probably during August, to collect the team on completion of the work.

The team aims to set up a small camp at the north of the island and will be paying careful attention to the weather and forecasts that will determine when flights can take place during the southern winter months.

One of the four helicopters flying towards the Gough Base helipad on 3rd June 2021.

SA Agulhas II sails for Gough

Mouse eradication project set to move to final phase
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Tragic scene on Gough Island as adult albatross killed by mice

2021 mice eradication project's importance brought into focus
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UK Overseas Territories Environment Council, April 2021

Tristan continues at the fore of international conservation work
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Yacht SV Urchin Calls at Tristan on the Way to Gough Island

The yacht SV Urchin stopped at Tristan on the 19th March 2021 to pick up islanders for the Gough Restoration Programme.
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Second Restoration Team Sails to Gough Island

The yacht Pelagic Australis has delivered second Gough Restoration Programme team from Cape Town to Gough Island.
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Gough Restoration Programme 2021 Start

The postponed restoration programme has resumed in 2021 with the first team members arriving at Gough Island.
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