Dame Caroline Spelman has called upon the UK government to become a world leader in protecting the oceans.
The Meriden MP is supporting a campaign, called #BackTheBlueBelt, calling on the Government to create more protected areas in a number of our Overseas Territories.
She hopes that this will include the announcement this month of the largest marine reserve in the Atlantic, around the incredible South Sandwich Islands near the Antarctic, home to a huge array of whales, fish, birds, seals and over 10% of the world’s penguins.
Dame Caroline said: “No one could have watched Blue Planet II and not be struck by the images of the amazing beauty and fragility of the life in our oceans.”
“We are incredibly lucky in the UK to be the stewards of some of the most pristine places left in the global ocean, thanks to our Overseas Territories.”
“I am delighted to support this campaign to protect these special places, and call on the Government to designate the South Sandwich Islands as a marine reserve as soon as possible.”
“At 500,000 sq km, the South Sandwich Islands reserve will be twice the size of the UK and will protect one of the last great wild places left on Earth”.
Through advancements in satellite technology and developments in international law, it is now possible to monitor and protect vast areas of ocean with ever greater effectiveness and lower cost.
The UK Government is already leading the world in this work, having stated its intention to create a “Blue Belt” of marine protection around a number of the UK Overseas Territories.
The UK has already protected a massive 830,000 sq km site in the Pacific, around the Pitcairn Islands - a move which Dame Caroline oversaw as Secretary of State for the Environment. This is one of the largest marine reserves in the world, more than three times the size of the UK.