The UK is responsible for one third of the world's penguins
The territorial waters of the UK’s Overseas Territories cover around 2% of the world’s oceans. This area is nine times larger than the marine area around the UK itself and contains much of our biodiversity. This means that the UK is responsible for 95% of the global population of Antarctic fur seals and a third of the world’s penguin population.
The Blue Belt is one of the government’s greatest wins for nature since 2010
With the fifth largest marine estate in the world, the UK is very well placed to lead on global marine conservation efforts. And that is exactly what successive Conservative governments have done through the Blue Belt programme. Initially included as a commitment within the 2015 General Election manifesto, the Blue Belt now fully protects around 1% of the world’s ocean, an area the size of India. Each election since 2015 has seen a commitment to strengthen the Blue Belt further which, in partnership with the Overseas Territories, the Foreign Office has continued to do.
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI)
SGSSI is a UK Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. It has no permanent human population, but is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Once the site of an industrial sealing and whaling operation, this Overseas Territory is now more biodiverse than the Galapagos Islands. It is home to 100 million seabirds, including penguins, and a recovering seasonal population of tens of thousands of humpback, fin, and blue whales.
The marine protected area (MPA) covering the whole of SGSSI was introduced in 2012 and initially included full protection for around 20,000km² of ocean. This was strengthened in 2013 and, thanks to MP campaigning efforts, this was extended again in 2018, growing the full protected zone from 2% to 23% of the MPA. Full protection now covers 283,000km².
This year the government has another opportunity to strengthen the Blue Belt and protect more of our Great British Penguins
The government will review the MPA around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands by the end of 2023. With the ever increasing threat of industrial fishing in the region, this review is an opportunity to fully protect all of the waters around the South Sandwich Islands and to grant additional protections to South Georgia at virtually no extra cost to the taxpayer.
Such a decision will also demonstrate renewed UK leadership on marine conservation and help to protect the marine environment for the future. This will ensure the supply of fish needed to protect Great British penguins!
How you can tell the government to Protect Great British Penguins