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article imageConservation protection announced for the Pitcairn Islands

By Tim Sandle     Mar 18, 2015 in Environment
Adamstown - The U.K. is set to establish the largest, continuous marine reserve in the world. The reserve will be based around the Pitcairn Islands, which are located in the Pacific Ocean.
The announcement about the nature reserve was made during the U.K.’s annual budget statement to Parliament on March 18, 2015. The objective is to protect various forms of ocean life from illegal fishing and trading (trading in so-called “dark fish.”) The move is supported by the National Geographic Society together with the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The marine reserve will cover some 834,000 square kilometers (around 322,000 square miles). This represents a size that is more than twice the land area of the British Isles and covers the entire exclusive economic zone of the Islands. The Pitcairn Islands, along with neighboring Henderson, Oeno and Ducie islands, are part of the British Overseas Territories. Although governed by the U.K., the local currency is the New Zealand dollar.
British Overseas Territories are territories under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the U.K. but they do not form part of the U.K. Historically they were parts of the former British Empire which never sought independence.
Prior to the announcement the U.K. also had held the world’s largest marine protected area. This was in the waters surrounding the Chagos archipelago in the Indian ocean.
The Pitcairn Islands themselves consist of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. The number of people living on the Islands is no more than 50. Some are decedents from the first people to settle on the Island in 1790 — the infamous mutineers of the HMS Bounty (movie fans may recall the Marlon Brando picture Mutiny on the Bounty.)
As well as fish and other marine species, the Islands have many important bird species and they are the only known nesting site of the Pitcairn reed warbler. The Island also has the only living Galápagos giant tortoise named “Mrs.T.” or "Mrs. Turpin," which has lived on the Island since 1937. There are many other interesting flora and fauna, which reflects the Island's locale (the Tropic of Capricorn lies a short distance to the north.)
Various people have been calling for a marine reserve to be established for some time. Those who have been calling for the reserve include celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall; and actors Gillian Anderson, Julie Christie and Helena Bonham-Carter.
As part of the protective measures, the U.K. government will use satellites to track shipping activity and will use information about illegal fishing to pass onto relevant international authorities. The satellite watch station will be based at the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell, Oxfordshire, U.K.
A representative of National Geographic Society, said to the BBC: "Ocean leadership like this from our government is exactly right. It protects the pristine waters of our overseas territories and sets an example to the rest of the world, giving hope and encouragement to future generations. Thank you UK government."
More about Pitcairn Islands, Marine reserve, Conservation, fish stocks
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