Stamps commemorating the establishment of Tristan's Marine Protected Zone, the largest in the Atlantic, as part of the UK's Blue Belt Programme.

See also:

The Blue Belt Programme

Issue date: 29th November 2021

Blue Belt Programme, 45p, Tristan Lobster Blue Belt Programme, 80p, FPS Wave Dancer
Blue Belt Programme, £1.00, Blue Shark Blue Belt Programme, £2.10, Coral Species
202111 Mint Stamps (45p, 80p, £1.00, £2.10) £4.35
202112 First Day Cover (with 45p, 80p, £1.00, £2.10 stamps) £5.55

Blue Belt Programme FDC

Blue Belt Programme Souvenir Sheet

202113 Mint Souvenir Sheet (with 45p, 80p, £1.00, £2.10 stamps) £4.35
202114 First Day Cover (with souvenir sheet) £5.55

Blue Belt Programme souvenir sheet FDC

Tristan's Contribution to the Blue Belt Programme

The UK Overseas Territories (OTs) are home to globally significant biodiversity. The UK Blue Belt Programme recognises this, and since 2016 has worked with the Governments of these Territories to enhance the protection and management of these precious marine environments.

The Blue Belt enhances marine protection by supporting work in five key areas:

  • Understanding and protecting biodiversity
  • Strengthening governance
  • Managing human impacts
  • Supporting sustainable fisheries management
  • Supporting compliance and enforcement.

The Blue Belt Programme helps UK OTs and the UK work together to improve understanding of the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and how to improve them. This work is supported by two world leading organisations – the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

The Tristan da Cunha Marine Protection Zone (MPZ) is the largest no-take zone in the Atlantic Ocean and the world's fourth-largest marine protected zone. The 687,247km2 Marine Protection Zone is almost three times the size of the UK. It is a biodiversity hotspot home to millions of seabirds, including the Tristan Albatross and the Northern Rockhopper Penguin, the rarely seen Shepherd's beaked whales, and 80% of the world's Sub-Antarctic Fur Seals.

The Tristan community set a high standard in marine protection to ban bottom trawling and other extractive practices and has established the Guardians of the Atlantic program to support the management of the MPZ.

It was announced in November 2020 and gazetted in August 2021. As Chief Islander James Glass said, "Our life on Tristan da Cunha has always been based around our relationship with the sea, and that continues today. The Tristan community is deeply committed to conservation: on land, we've already declared protected status for more than half our territory. But the sea is our vital resource, for our economy and ultimately for our long-term survival. That's why we're fully protecting 90% of our waters - and we're proud that we can play a key role in preserving the health of the oceans."

Description of the Stamps

These stamps highlight and celebrate some of the key elements of Tristan da Cunha's MPZ:

45p - Lobster

Tristan Rock Lobster (Janus tristani) is found in the coastal waters throughout the Tristan da Cunha archipelago in rocky areas less than 200 meters. They feed mainly on seaweeds but also on both other plants and animal species. The prolific kelp beds that surround all of Tristan's islands are essential nursery grounds for the lobster. Tristan's Fisheries Department and partners from the RSPB are studying potential climate change impacts of increasing sea temperatures on the lobster populations. The Rock Lobster fishery is the mainstay of Tristan da Cunha's economy, and since 2011 the Marine Stewardship Council has certified this small pot fishery as sustainable. It is locally known as "crawfish" and part of the community's culture as it takes pride of place at any dinner party celebration.

80p - FPS Wave Dancer

The Wave Dancer is the Tristan da Cunha's Fisheries Department's patrol vessel. During the first phase of the Blue Belt program, the Wave Dancer was sent back to the UK for refurbishment and maintenance. In addition, members of the Fisheries department received at-sea survival training and fisheries management training. The Wave Dancer patrol vessel is an integral part of the Fisheries Department management of the MPZ.

£1.00 - Blue Shark (Prionace glauca)

Blue Sharks are one of the great ocean wanderers. These slim, graceful sharks, up to 2.5m (8ft) long with large eyes and brilliant blue backs, are known to make journeys of up to 9,200 km (5,700 miles) with some individuals making multiple trans-Atlantic crossings. Research suggests that the waters of Tristan da Cunha may provide a refuge for these gentle giants. Large females and small juveniles occur, suggesting that the waters around Tristan da Cunha are a blue shark nursery ground with large females travelling here to give birth. The lack of intense fishing effort seen in other parts of the world hopefully provides a sanctuary for the pups to grow in peace before undertaking their own migrations. Despite occurring through most of the world's oceans, their numbers are decreasing due to fishing pressure, and the species is listed as near-threatened globally.

£2.10 - Coral Species

Demosphyllum pertusum, a species of cold-water coral, that typically lives hundreds of metres below the surface. This species is abundant around the islands and offshore seamounts of Tristan da Cunha, sometimes forming large reef structures. Cold-water coral reefs support healthy ecosystems by providing essential habitats for many other animals, including fish and crustaceans. However, these fragile structures can be ancient and take a long time to form, which means protecting them from physical damage is essential. Members of the Tristan community joined the Blue Belt Discovery 100 research cruise and helped collect data that contributed to the Marine Protection Zone declaration in 2020. One critical decision was to ban future bottom trawling fisheries and help protect these Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems where these corals live.

Souvenir Sheet

By bringing all four stamps together, their backgrounds combine in the souvenir sheet to show a map of the Marine Protected Zone, highlighting the Exclusive Economic Zones around the northern island group and Gough Island, and also showing the sea mounts.

First Day Covers - Blue Shark (see above)

Technical Specifications from Pobjoy Mint Ltd.

Designer:Andrew Robinson Production Co-ordination:Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd
Printer:Cartor Process:Stochastic Lithography
Stamp size:42 x 28mm Souvenir sheet size:110 x 80mm
Sheet format:10 Perforation:13¼ x 13½ per 2cms