New MPAs in UK Overseas Territories
The UK has designated a huge area of our Overseas Territories as marine protected areas. The areas are located around islands in the Pacific and Atlantic, where some areas will fully ban commercial fishing, but will continue to allow smaller-scale, more sustainable fishing. Some will allow some commercial fishing, but will ban activities such as mining.The area will be monitored using new ‘Eyes on the Seas’ technology, combining information from satellites and drones to monitor the levels of compliance with the rules in very remote areas.
Global Fishing Watch
Speaking of satellite technology, a new tool, Global Fishing Watch, has just fully launched. It allows anyone to login and see what commercial fishing is happening all over the world. It’s a great tool to be able to track fishing vessels to show if they are law-abiding, or to have evidence if they’re not. It will also allow the public to take an interest in our global fisheries and how they’re managed.
France taking big steps to reduce single-use plastic
France has become the first country to ban disposable plastic cups and plates. 4.73 billion disposable cups are thrown away every year in France, but from 2020 they will need to be made of at least 50% biodegradable products that the public will be able to compost at home. This figure will be increased to 60% by 2025. France also banned single-use plastic bags in July this year, meaning they’re taking great steps forward in the campaign to reduce plastic waste.
New MPA protecting undersea volcanoes
There’s a new MPA off the coast of New England. Nearly 5000 square kilometres of ocean has been protected through the creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. This area protects undersea volcanoes and canyons, and these areas harbour deep water and often endangered species. Each new designation is helping the overall percentage of the world’s oceans that are protected to creep up.
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument expanded
President Obama has expanded an existing marine reserve, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, taking it up to 582, 587 square miles. Commercial fishing and mining will not be allowed in the area, but some low level recreational fishing will be. Protecting large areas like this will help remove pressure on the marine ecosystems from human activity and will help fish stocks to recover. More individuals will be able to reach reproductive size and will therefore be able to start to rebuild the fish stocks. This expanded MPA is great news, but it won’t actually mean anything unless it is well policed and the regulations enforced. Otherwise we’re celebrating a line on a piece of paper, a ‘Paper Park’. Without good policing, vessels will still be able to fish in the area, but developments in satellite monitoring technology mean the future is getting brighter for fisheries enforcement.