The Blue Belt Programme aims to create marine conservations zones around the UK's Overeas Territories, including the Tristan da Cunha group of islands.

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News of Tristan's planning and implementation of the Blue Belt Programme. This is a UK strategy to protect the marine environment of its Overseas Territories, including the Tristan da Cunha group of islands, by establishing marine conservation zones. The UK Government has provided funding up to 2020 to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) to provide the expertise and advice the OTs might need to formulate and deliver the strategy.

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.

James Glass gives key presentation at oceans event in London

Report from Tristan's UK Representative Chris Carnegy, with additional photos from Fiona Kilpatrick

World Ocean Day 2022 on the 8th June brought a London celebration of the 'Blue Belt' initiative that has protected 4.3 million km2 of the waters around UK overseas territories. Tristan da Cunha's Marine Protection Zone has contributed a vast 690,000 km2 to that achievement.

Jane Rumble, Head of the Polar Regions Department, FCDO, and Chair of the Blue Belt Board, opens the event next to the panelists.

Jane Rumble, Head of the Polar Regions Dept., FCDO, and Chair of the Blue Belt Board, opens the event.

Chief Islander James Glass, in his dual role as Director of Fisheries, gave one of the main presentations to a VIP audience at the Royal Society's headquarters. He explored the potential impact of climate change on Tristan da Cunha - its wildlife, its economy and its people. He stressed the opportunity to make Tristan a base for maritime science, and the need for a vessel to add consistency to research and resilience to the island.

James Glass presenting 1 James presenting 4
Above and below left: James Glass presenting
James Glass presenting 2 Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister for the Pacific and the Environment
Above right: Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister for the Pacific and the Environment

UK environment minister Lord Zac Goldsmith met James before the event, and in his own speech he underlined his well-known support for what Tristan da Cunha has achieved, commenting "to those who think this [tackling damage to the environment] is too ambitious, I say: look at Tristan".

James Glass with Lord Zac Goldsmith Trevor Glass with Jonathan Hall, RSPB Head of Overseas Territories
James Glass with Lord Zac Goldsmith Trevor Glass with Jonathan Hall, RSPB Head of Overseas Territories

Tristan da Cunha's Head of Conservation Trevor Glass also attended the event as part of his own trip to the UK: he and James met with key partners including representatives of the RSPB and British Antarctic Survey.

James Glass with Adam Pile, Deputy Director of Overseas Territories at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office James Glass with British Antarctic Survey Chief Executive Dame Jane Francis
James Glass with Adam Pile, Deputy Director of Overseas Territories at the FCDO. James Glass with British Antarctic Survey Chief Executive, Dame Jane Francis.

Steph Martin, Tristan's Environmental and Conservation Policy Officer, chairs a session

Stephanie Martin, Tristan's Environmental and Conservation Policy Officer, chaired one of the sessions.

Josephine Connolly, Minister from the Turks and Caicos Islands

Josephine Connolly, Minister with responsibility for the environment from the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The islands becoming the latest OT to join the 'Blue Belt' (and the first in the Caribbean) was announced at the event.

Stamp issue: The Blue Belt Programme

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

The Chief Islander with the help of the RSPB held a celebratory braai for the community to mark the establishment of Tristan's Marine Protected Zone (MPZ).
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Tristan's Marine Protection Zone Announced

Creation of the Atlantic Ocean's largest conservation area
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Chief Islander reports on Tristan's Marine Protection Zone

James Glass heralds 4 million square kilometre Blue Belt
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World Ocean Day Tristan Blue Belt Update

The Blue Belt Programme's annual report shows Tristan at forefront of marine conservation.
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Tristan central to Parliament OT Environment Meeting

Blue Belt and Gough Restoration plans discussed
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Illegal Fishing focus at London Blue Belt Workshop

Tristan represented as technology surveillance is explained
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Page Updated: ATBA: Areas To Be Avoided in Tristan Waters

Instructions to all shipping to avoid sailing near land
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Tristan represented at Cornwall Blue Belt Symposium

Video showcases Tristan's Wildlife
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Tristan represented at inaugural DEFRA-OT meeting

Overseas Territories briefed on environmental and Brexit matters
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Wave Dancer hand-over ceremony

Event at Lymington in Hampshire
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RRS Discovery's Tristan cruise ends

Review of the March 2019 expedition's work towards Blue Belt plans
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RRS Discovery departs for St Helena

Blue Belt Expedition completes its Tristan Exclusive Economic Zone work
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Natural History Museum event links with RRS Discovery

March 2019 event showcases on-going Blue Belt research in a live video link.
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RRS Discovery arrives at Tristan

Multi-discipline team change-over, March 2019.
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RRS Discovery wildlife observations

On the outward journey from the Falkland Islands to Tristan
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RRS Discovery departs Falklands for Tristan

Latest episode of Blue Belt research gets underway
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Blue Belt talks at London Zoo

Event organised by the Marine Management Organisation
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Chief Islander in UK Blue Belt Meetings

Ian Lavarello takes part in second week of consultations
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JMC Week Highlights

Tristan at centre stage of Overseas Territories' big week
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Tristan Fisheries Department's excellent work celebrated

RSPB report to coincide with World Wildlife Conservation Day
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Planning a Tristan da Cunha Marine Protection Strategy

Report of July 2018 London Meeting
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Trip to Inaccessible and Nightingale Islands using new RIB

Tristan Conservation Department trip to support field work teams.
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Wave Dancer in UK for refurbishment

Tristan's Fisheries Patrol boat arrives in UK for Blue Belt funded repairs
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Blue Belt Annual Update Published

2017/18 Programme Booklet available to download
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Tristan Blue Belt Summary

Oliver Yates from Cefas summarises progress up to June 2018
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Tristan represented at No 10 Environment Meeting

UKOTA meets Sir John Randall, the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser for the Environment on 24th May 2018
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Blue Belt survey aboard RRS James Clark Ross

March 2018 Blue Belt survey provides vital data for Tristan's marine protection zone plans
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DEFRA Minister briefed on Tristan's Blue Belt Programme

Reception held aboard HMS Belfast on 18th April
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London Blue Belt event aboard the ship CEFAS Endeavour

Tristan’s Blue Belt work showcased to Commonwealth leaders and promoted to UK schools
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Report from Oliver Yates

Senior Cefas Marine Science Advisor visits Tristan da Cunha Islands January-February 2018
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Bluenose survey around Gough Island and McNish seamount

On-going Blue Belt research on MFV Edinburgh
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RRS James Clark Ross Expedition Newsletter

RRS James Clark Ross visited Tristan da Cunha waters 22-31 March 2018
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RRS James Clark Ross visits Tristan

Presentation of Blue Belt research given to island community
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Tristan Blue Belt plans presented to MPs

UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove leads delegation of MPs committed to marine protection
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RRS James Clark Ross helps Tristan's Blue Belt plans

UK marine research ship to carry out Tristan EEZ seamount surveys in March 2018
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Report on Tristan da Cunha Marine Protection Planning Workshop

Blue Belt July 2017 London Workshop Report available to download
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Cefas officer assists Tristan with Blue Belt Work

Update on Oliver Yates' work on Tristan's Blue Belt plans.
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Blue Belt Update

Cefas and MMO team visit Tristan
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Blue Belt Representatives to visit Tristan in January 2018

RMS St Helena's final Tristan voyage brings MMO and Cefas scientists to Tristan
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Creating a Blue Belt around the Tristan da Cunha Islands

Update on progress towards a bespoke marine protection zone by 2020
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Key Stakeholders meet to discuss Tristan's Blue Belt Commitment

Workshop held at the London FCO for Tristan to plan its strategy to protect its marine environment by 2020.
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