Context: Tristan da Cunha is creating a marine protection zone to safeguard endangered rockhopper penguins, yellow-nosed albatross and other wildlife in an area of the South Atlantic three times the size of the United Kingdom.

More on news:

  • As per the National Geographic Society’s Campaign for Nature Initiative, over 30 percent of the world’s oceans need to be protected to allow ecosystems to provide benefits like ample fish stocks.
  • Only about 4% of the world’s oceans are protected, and the vast majority of existing marine parks and reserves are either poorly managed, or not looked after at all.
  • The sanctuary will be the biggest “no-take zone” in the Atlantic Ocean and the fourth biggest anywhere in the world, protecting fish that live in the waters and tens of millions of seabirds that feed on them.

Significance of the announcement

  • The protection zone will become part of the U.K.’s Blue Belt Program, which is providing 27 million pounds ($35.5 million) to promote marine conservation in the country’s overseas territories. 
  • This will close over 90 percent of their waters to harmful activities such as bottom-trawling fishing, sand extraction and deep-sea mining.
  • It will safeguard species like evengill sharks, yellow-nosed albatrosses and rockhopper penguins. 
  • The Pew Bertarelli project, which promotes the creation of marine reserves around the world, said it would help Tristan da Cunha protect its waters with technology that uses real-time data to evaluate ocean conditions and human activity such as fishing. 

Tristan da Cunha

  • Archipelago: It is a small chain of islands over 6,000 miles from London in the South Atlantic.
    • The territory includes four main islands, the largest of which is Tristan da Cunha, located 2,810 kilometers west of Cape Town, South Africa. 
    • It was discovered by the Dutch in 1643. 
    • Britain took possession of Tristan da Cunha in 1816, establishing the territory’s first permanent settlement. 
  • Remotest population: The mountainous archipelago Tristan da Cunha is inhabited by less than 300 humans.
    • It is home to the world’s most remote human settlement.
    • It is located about 2,000 km from the nearest land. 
    • The territory’s most important source of income is commercial fishing for crayfish, known as the Tristan Rock Lobster, which is sold as a luxury product in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China.
  • Rich biodiversity: The isolated area, roughly equidistant between South Africa and Argentina, supports 85% of the endangered northern rockhopper penguins, 11 species of whales and dolphins, and most of the world's sub-Antarctic fur seals.
    • The waters around Tristan da Cunha serve as a feeding ground for the critically endangered Tristan albatross and endangered yellow-nosed albatross.
    • The islands are also home to several species of land birds including the Wilkins bunting, the U.K.’s rarest bird, and the Inaccessible rail, the world’s smallest flightless bird.This undated photo made available by the Pew Charitable Trust shows an albatross on the island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic.
    • The island group is also home to the World Heritage Site of Gough and Inaccessible Islands, which is one of the most important seabird islands in the world. 
  • Threats: They face threats including illegal and unregulated fishing activities, overfishing, plastic pollution and climate change. 
    • Invasive mice brought to the islands by passing ships kill over 2 million birds a year.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) 

  • They involve the protective management of natural areas according to pre-defined management objectives. 
  • MPAs can be conserved for a number of reasons including economic resources, biodiversity conservation, and species protection. 
  • They are created by delineating zones with permitted and non-permitted uses within that zone.
  • Significance: From maintaining sources of food to helping protect shorelines, and from protecting biodiversity to providing income and jobs, Marine Protected Areas can achieve so much.