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

See also:

Tristan's Atlantic Guardians Project Report

Five finger fish swimming in Tristan waters (Photo - Rob Mrowicki)

Atlantic Guardians





See also:

Tristan da Cunha Blue Belt Programme

Atlantic Guardians explained by RSPB's Siobhan Vye

What is Atlantic Guardians?

Atlantic Guardians is a project that aims to support Tristan da Cunha with their Marine Protection Zone after its legal designation in 2021. The activities in the project were designed in partnership between the Tristan da Cunha Government, RSPB and Blue Nature Alliance, to ensure that Tristan has the support it needs to get the MPZ off to a strong and sustainable start. The name “Atlantic Guardians” was chosen to highlight the commitment of the Tristan community in their role as guardians of the Atlantic, through the protection of the ocean around their islands, and the amazing wildlife it supports. Atlantic Guardians will support a wide range of activities over the next two years, from supporting the fisheries and conservation departments with marine management work, through to helping the community share their work across the globe as an example to the world of how a small community can make a big positive impact to their marine environment.

Map of the Tristan da Cunha Marine Protection Zone

The Atlantic Guardians project has four key strands: strengthening science & management; celebrating and increasing community engagement with the marine environment; building marine management knowledge and skills on Tristan, and raising the global profile of the MPZ and community of Tristan.

Some examples of the project’s activities over the next few years include:

  • Supporting the establishment of a new Sounds of the South Atlantic research programme between the Tristan Conservation department and partners in the RSPB, British Antarctic Survey and SRUC to learn more about the whales that frequent Tristan’s pristine waters.
  • Supporting the recruitment and training of a Tristanian Marine Protection Zone Officer to increase Tristan’s marine management capacity.
  • Supporting global knowledge exchange trips for the Fisheries and Conservation departments to exchange learnings & build connections with global experts in sustainable fisheries and marine conservation.
  • Support the establishment of an expert Marine Protection Zone Advisory Committee that will support the Tristan Government and Island Council with marine management strategies and decisions.
  • Implementing a communications strategy that builds the profile of Tristan’s Marine Protection Zone and celebrates the achievement of the community globally.
  • Provide marine education opportunities to Tristan school children, from involvement in conservation activities through to learning traditional boat building skills from older generations.
  • Supporting wider community involvement with marine conservation activities.

Sub-Antarctic fur seals swimming in the Tristan kelp forest (Photo - Rohan Holt)

How does Atlantic Guardians interact with wider marine management work around Tristan?

Atlantic Guardians forms one part of a wider picture of marine management work led by Tristan. Another part is ongoing work under the UK Government Blue Belt programme that is supporting the Government with research and monitoring in the MPZ. Furthermore, Tristan Government works with many other partners on specific projects that support the MPZ, such as the British Antarctic Survey, JNCC and many others.

Janine Lavarello giving a presentation on the Atlantic Guardians project
in the Prince Philip Hall on Tristan on 8th June 2022.
See: Tristan da Cunha Wildlife and Conservation News: Atlantic Guardians Talk to Islanders for more.


Project Steering Group (responsible for decision making and advice)

James Glass, Trevor Glass, Administrator, Steph Martin, Andy Schofield, Siobhan Vye, Jéssica Escobar Porras, Janine Lavarello, Dale Richards.

Core project delivery staff:


Jéssica Escobar Porras: RSPB Marine Management Support Officer based on Tristan, whose primary role is to deliver on island activities and provide additional marine management capacity to Tristan Government across all relevant Fisheries and Conservation departments work (not exclusively Atlantic Guardians supported). Reports to the Administrator on island, and supports both departments as both have marine management / research responsibilities.

Janine Lavarello: Tristan da Cunha Government Marine Protection Zone Officer – shadows and supports the MMSO to build knowledge and skills to lead MPZ work after the project finishes. Reports to the MMSO.

United Kingdom

Siobhan Vye – RSPB Project Manager: oversight of project, coordinating & supporting delivery of all project activities, and leading delivery of some UK / overseas activities.

Dale Richards: RSPB Communications Lead – supports project communications from the project.

As the project continues, we hope that the whole of the community has the opportunity to get involved with activities.

Tristan represented at UN Ocean Conference

Report and photos

Tristan Government

Environmental and Conservation

Policy Officer

Stephanie Martin

UN Ocean Conference, Lisbon, Portugal 27 June-1 July 2022

The second United Nations high-level Ocean conference was held in Lisbon, Portugal, during the last week of June. Trevor Glass, Head of the Conservation Department and I were honoured to be part of the UK delegation. (Unfortunately, Trevor became ill and was unable to attend) The Blue Belt program sponsored me as part of my role as the UKOT rep to the Blue Belt Steering Group. Many sessions were relevant to Tristan da Cunha's Marine Protection Zone and other UKOTs marine programs. One of the week's highlights was one session about Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing co-chaired by Lord Goldsmith.   Lord Goldsmith talked about the Blue Belt program and, at the end of the session, specially named the Tristan Community as an example of the incredible work happening in the UKOTs as champions of the environment!

Stephanie Martin (Centre) is joined by
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Minister Rebecca Pow (right)
and Holly Mennel, also from DEFRA (left)
  for this photograph where they are framed by one of the conference's posters.

In the evening I attended receptions with leaders from South Pacific Islands and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to discuss common ocean challenges, including climate change impacts.

I was honored to have lunch with Minister Rebecca Pow (then the appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and the UK Ambassador to Portugal, Chris Sainty. They both asked many questions about Tristan da Cunha and the community. It was a wonderful and a bit intense week, but I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to share all the important environmental work happening in Tristan! #smallislandBIGIMPACT

Stephanie with the UK Ambassador to Portugal, Chris Sainty.

Atlantic Guardians Talk to Islanders

Photos from Emil Pirzenthal

In the evening of the 8th June 2022 - World Ocean Day - Jess Escobar Porras and Janine Lavarello gave a talk to islanders in Prince Philip Hall about the Marine Protection Zone (MPZ) and how important it is for protecting our oceans. Tristan's MPZ is the largest in the Atlantic and the fourth biggest in the world - an example for other maritime nations to follow.

Slides: Atlantic Guardians logo

The event was hosted by the Atlantic Guardians Project - ep-5361994402101499690_n.jpg

Talk: Audience

Jess Escobar Porras (below left) and Janine Lavarello (below right) presented to an attentive audience - ep-874848115703278949_n.jpg

Talk: Jess Talk: Janine

Below: Some slides from the presentations

Slides: Tristanians take Action

Slides: MPZ on a world map

Slides: Projects & Collaborations

Hosted by the Atlantic Guardians project, there was tea and coffee after the talks, with a cake specially decorated with the project's logo, and cup cakes with ocean blue icing. The Hall was decorated for the event with artwork produced for World Ocean Day by students at St Mary's School.


World Ocean Day 2022 at St Mary's School

Visiting marine biologists ran an event to celebrate World Ocean Day 2022 at St Mary's School.
Full story >>

James Glass gives key presentation at oceans event in London

Tristan islanders and officials participated in a 'Blue Belt' event in London to celebrate World Ocean Day 2022.
Full story >>

MPZ Event at the House of Commons

The designation of Tristan's Marine Protection Zone was celebrated at the Palace of Westminster on 11th May 2022.
Full story >>

Great Egret sighted on Tristan

Migrant visitor seen at the Patches
Full story >>

Tristan training after flax removal project

Post field season activities with Inaccessible Flax Team
Full story >>

Rare Black Ruff caught

Eagle-eyed fishermen land three fish last seen five years ago.
Full story >>