Here is some excellent news to bring you cheer.

Today, the Government and people of Tristan da Cunha have announced a new 700,000 kmMarine Protection Zone which will be the biggest no-take area in the Atlantic.  The Tristan islanders will become guardians of one of the world’s most pristine marine environments where no fishing or extractive activities will be permitted. 

It is a phenomenal achievement and builds on Tristan's long history of protecting its unique environment.  It means that more than 4.3 million km2 of some of the world’s most precious marine environment – 1% of all the world’s ocean - will be protected as part of the UK Government’s Blue Belt Programme. 

This latest success is the result of 20 years of hard work.

It began with the RSPB working with the Government of Tristan da Cunha to lay the conservation ground work and support Tristan’s exemplary management of its sustainable lobster fishery.  There was then a five-year programme of UK Government Blue Belt support, followed by an international coalition of partners who have generously supported the final phase. The RSPB along with National Geographic also partnered with the Blue Nature Alliance, Becht Family Charitable Trust together with Blue Marine Foundation, Wyss Foundation, Kaltroco and Don Quixote II Foundation to enable this large-scale declaration.

I have never been to Tristan and probably never will go.  But from the films (for example see here) that I have seen and from the stories that know it well, the waters that surround Tristan are some of the richest in the world. Tens of millions of seabirds soar above the waves, penguins and seals cram onto the beaches, threatened sharks breed offshore and mysterious whales feed in the deep-water canyons.

And now, from today, we can say all of this is protected.

Commenting on this news, our Chief Executive Beccy Speight said “In 2020 the importance of having nature in our lives has never been clearer. While Tristan da Cunha may be far away in distance it is still close to our hearts and protecting it is still the UK’s responsibility. Closer to home, the crisis facing nature is also huge. So huge that our wellbeing, our economic future, and our very survival depend on the choices we make now about the natural world. We need politicians to emulate the leadership of this small community to help us build the world we all want to live in. We hope today’s fantastic announcement is the first of many more that help revive our world.”

And, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has used this announcement to lay down a gauntlet to others by saying, “I am now calling on other nations to join us in our ambition to protect 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030. We need collective global action if we are to bequeath a world that is every bit as wonderful and magnificent as the one we inherited.”

I would like to extend my congratulations to all that have helped to make this happen.

Flying fish, broad-billed prion, Atlantic yellow-billed albatross and elephant seal images courtesy of Andy Schofield from the RSPB who, along with another of my colleagues Jonathan Hall, has worked tirelessly within the partnership to make this happen