Former Fisheries Minister and Member of Parliament for Newbury Richard Benyon today calls on the Government to endorse his call for the UK to lead the world in protecting the world’s oceans.
In advance of BBC’s Blue Planet 2 premiere on Sunday evening, Richard today launched a pamphlet called “Blue Belt 2.0 - British Global Leadership in Ocean Conservation 2017-2020”.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson spoke in support of the Blue Belt at the pamphlet launch in Parliament.
Richard is working with a coalition of environmental NGOs to encourage the Government to establish some of the largest marine reserves in the world in a number of the UK’s Overseas Territories.
Richard said: “The UK has 16 Overseas Territories and whilst these are small places, they often have enormous territorial waters around them, collectively covering millions of square kilometres.
“As a result the UK has the fifth largest marine estate on the planet – much of it as near to pristine seas as are left anywhere.
“And thanks to breakthroughs in satellite monitoring we can now protect them much more effectively than before.”
Richard is calling on the Government to implement the ambitious “Blue Belt” commitments it already made before the 2017 election to put nearly four million square kilometres of British ocean under protection by 2020.
In addition he is asking the Government to establish a marine reserve around the South Sandwich Islands in the Southern Ocean, near Antarctica.
An incredibly rich marine environment, one quarter of the world’s penguins live there. But only 2% of its waters are currently fully protected. The UK should establish a 500,000 sq km reserve – an area twice the size of the UK - around South Sandwich.
“If we make these designations, the UK will become the first country in the world to establish marine reserves in the Indian, Pacific, Atlantic and Southern Oceans,” Richard said.