Milestone for ocean protection as Tristan da Cunha secures vast no-take Marine Protection Zone and publishes Marine Management Plan

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.