RMS St Helena's final Tristan voyage brings MMO and Cefas scientists to Tristan

Blue Belt Representatives to visit Tristan in January 2018

Edited report from the FCO website: GOV.UK published on 22nd December 2017

Senior representatives from the UK Government’s Blue Belt Programme are visiting Tristan da Cunha in January 2018. They are from the two UK organisations responsible for the implementation of creation of Blue Belt marine conservation zones around the UK Overseas Territories, including Tristan da Cunha: MMO – The Marine Management Organisation and Cefas – The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.

The Blue Belt Programme is a 4-year initiative delivered in partnership with the UK Overseas Territories, the UK Government and stakeholders to provide long term protection for over four million square kilometres of marine environment across the UK Overseas Territories.

The purpose of the visit is to discuss how the Tristan community will benefit from the implementation of the Blue Belt Programme. The Programme aims to ensure that, as well as providing greater environmental protection to globally important ecosystems, these benefits are delivered in tandem with social and economic opportunities for the local communities.

For example, by reviewing options for a Traffic Separation Scheme around Tristan da Cunha, identifying areas to be avoided around the islands/seamounts and introducing a compulsory reporting system for certain hazardous cargo, we can look at how best to mitigate the very real risks to the environment and to local fisheries that were brought into sharp focus with the 2011 MS Oliva grounding on Nightingale Island.

The Blue Belt Programme has also recently undertaken a survey of bluenose fishing stocks to ensure the long-term sustainable management of the fisheries business.

The Blue Belt Programme are working closely with the Tristan da Cunha Government on a number of separate projects, but are also keen to hear direct from local communities whilst they are on the island, to answer their enquiries regarding the Programme.

Craig McGarvey, MMO Blue Belt Programme Director will be joined by Dr Martin Collins, Cefas Lead Scientist for the Tristan Blue Belt Programme and Oliver Yates, Cefas Senior Marine Science Advisor. They will travel on the RMS St Helena which is scheduled to leave Cape Town on 29th December and arrive at Tristan on 3rd January for a three-day visit. They will attend a meeting of the Tristan Island Council during their stay.

RMS St Helena off Tristan (Sarah Cash)