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Massive protected area around ‘Atlantic Galapagos’ one step closer to becoming reality

18 / 09 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

Bringing the protection of the “Atlantic Galapagos” one step closer to becoming a reality, the Governor of St. Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha, Philip Rushbrook, designated a large-sale Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the waters around Ascension Island last month. The MPA will cover the entire Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Ascension Island, a UK Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic. That means that an area of more than 440,000 square kilometers or 170,000 square miles will be included in the Ascension Island MPA, making it one of the largest in the world. While legislation and a management plan won’t be finalized until long-term funding has been secured for the MPA, it has been proposed that commercial fishing and mineral extraction be prohibited altogether within the waters around Ascension Island, which has been described as a “miniature Galapagos Islands” because of its rich biodiversity. Ascension Island and its territorial waters provide important habitat for several key species of endemic fish, green turtles, land crabs, seabirds, sharks, and tuna, among other wildlife species. The island’s EEZ also includes extensive seamounts, underwater mountains that teem with life. The designation of the MPA was made at the recommendation of the Ascension Island Council, which said in a statement: “The designation of such a large-scale Marine Protected Area will ensure that the near pristine marine environment around Ascension Island will be protected for future generations. We now eagerly await appropriate funding from the UK Government to support the ongoing future management costs of…

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