265,000 square miles around Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island to be protected

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Queen Mary's Peak, Tristan da Cunha

In a step towards the UK government’s ambition to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, the government of Tristan da Cunha, a British overseas territory with a population of 245 in the South Atlantic, have decided to ban all fishing and other extractive activities such as deep-sea mining from a 265,000 miĀ² area around the island and Gough Island which is part of the same archipelago.

Queen Mary's Peak, Tristan da Cunha

Queen Mary’s Peak, Tristan da Cunha. Photo: Toby Rockwell.

The decision will protect endangered species such as the rockhopper penguin, yellow-nosed albatross and southern bluefin tuna. People can get to the island via a six-day boat ride from Cape Town. The islands are also a haven for humpback, southern right, fin and beaked whales. Further, the waters around the island are considered to be a nursery ground for blue sharks which are threatened by overfishing for their fins.

The protected area will become the world’s fourth largest “no-take zone”. The other three areas above this one in terms of size are the Ross Sea in Antarctica, near Hawaii in the North Pacific and around Pitcairn islands in the South Pacific.

The RSPB advised the government of the island in their decision-making. The Times reports that fishing will be permitted within 50 nautical miles of Tristan da Cunha but prohibited between 50 and 200 nautical miles. It is a volcanic island.

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