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Ascension Island will become a marine reserve

The protected status for the waters has been granted by the U.K. government. Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island, located in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean. The island is around 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) from the coast of Africa. The island and its waters is a British Overseas Territory. The territory is governed by Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. British Overseas Territories are territories under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the U.K., but they do not form part of the U.K. itself.

The newly created marine reserve will cover 234,291 square kilometers (90,460 square miles). The completion of the process will be at the start of 2017. The status was granted after lobbying by The Great British Oceans Coalition, which includes the Blue Marine Foundation and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

The idea behind creating a vast marine reserve is to protect the varied and unique ecosystem. This includes the largest marlin in the world; large populations of green turtles; and the frigate bird.

The result of the status is that half of the waters will be fishing free and the other half will be under a restricted license, where fishing boast will need to apply for a permit. Permits will be overseen by a charitable body called the Louis Bacon Foundation. Louis Bacon is a U.S. multi-millionaire hedge fund manager, who sponsors several charitable causes; he is a major donor to the U.K. Conservative Party.

James Duddridge, the Minister for the U.K. Overseas Territories, told The Daily Telegraph: “The UK Government is particularly grateful to the Bacon Foundation for providing £300,000 to cover costs of enforcement over the coming fishing season and to contribute to surveillance, science and management for the next 18 months.”

He added: “This will aid the Ascension Island Government in identifying and securing the future size and shape of a fully protected marine reserve in at least 50 per cent of Ascension’s maritime zone. This reserve could be ready for formal designation as soon as 2017, once further scientific data has been collected and analysed.”

The new marine protection zone follows on from the U.K. government establishing a similar reserve based around the Pitcairn Islands, which are located in the Pacific Ocean (as reported on by Digital Journal last year.) The formation of the marine reserve means that 2 percent of the oceans have protected zones.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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