On October 30, the Ocean Elders wrote to United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron to congratulate him for his leadership on designating marine reserves in the Pitcairn and Ascension Islands.
Dear Prime Minister,
Further to our letter of 6 February 2015, we write to congratulate you on your Government’s visionary commitment to designate marine reserves in the UK Overseas Territories of the Pitcairn Islands and Ascension Island, and to create a further ‘Blue Belt’ of protected areas around the rest of the UK’s Overseas Territories. Committing the necessary resources in the ongoing Comprehensive Spending Review for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to deliver this vision will make your Government a world leader in ocean protection. It would also secure an historic legacy for the conservation of our marine environment.
Announcements this year by the Governments of the United States of America, New Zealand, Chile and Palau to create large-scale fully-protected marine reserves in their waters have demonstrated great leadership and present a major step forward for our planet. Your manifesto commitment puts the UK Government at the forefront of this seminal global movement. With the fifth largest marine zone on the planet, covering polar, tropical, and temperate zones, the UK has possibly the most diverse ocean portfolio of any nation on Earth. You thus have arguably the greatest opportunity to demonstrate good governance and leadership for the seas, as well as to forcefully advance marine security and combat pirate fishing.
Designation of a marine reserve around Ascension Island would provide for the Atlantic Ocean a level of commitment comparable to what the UK has made for the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean and Pitcairn Island in the Pacific.
With the benefits of modern technology, vast areas of ocean can today be protected at very little cost, and we hope that the resources can be put in place to make a global system of marine reserves a reality.
Your leadership on this matter will protect some of the planet’s richest ecosystems, and help protect the bounteous ocean for this and future generations.