Government, Press Release
This week the world's second United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference, was held in Portugal to support the "Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development."
Targets include reducing marine pollution, protecting marine and coastal ecosystems, minimising acidification, ending illegal and over-fishing, increasing investment in scientific knowledge and marine technology, and respecting international law that calls for the safe and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources. More information on the UN Ocean Conference 2022 can be found online through www.un.org/en/conferences/ocean2022.
Although human activity has affected almost all marine ecosystems, Ascension's marine environment is fortunately relatively much less affected by human activity when compared to other areas of the world. Life here is more abundant and ecosystems are much healthier, supporting large biodiverse populations of fish and large predators as well as globally-important populations of breeding turtles and seabirds.
Ascension’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) ensures that these ecosystems and their natural processes will remain healthy for the future, safeguarding the ocean against many of the human pressures seen elsewhere.
In September 2021 AIG published a five-year management plan for the MPA, detailing what actions will be taken to help further develop understanding of the MPA and ensure it retains some of the highest levels of protection seen anywhere in the world. The management plan links to many of the targets laid out in the UNs Sustainable Development Goal 14, which formed the basis of discussions at the UN Ocean Conference 2022. Some of these targets include reducing marine pollution, protecting marine and coastal ecosystems, ending illegal and over-fishing and increasing investment in scientific knowledge and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources.
Waters within our MPA are now legally protected from fishing beyond 12 nautical miles of the island, with large-scale commercial fishing banned within the entirety of the MPA. Mineral extraction, including deep-sea mining, is also prohibited. AIG, along with several partnering organisations and universities, continue to grow our scientific understanding of Ascension's marine environment.
Work is underway to develop an Inshore Fisheries Policy, and funding has been awarded to appoint a Marine Plastics Coordinator to analyse single-use plastics usage in Ascension and assess what can be done to help reduce this.
Some of our current research projects focus on zooplankton, plastic pollution, green turtle monitoring and shark behaviour. AIG is also working to support the sustainable development of social and economic activities within the MPA. We want the island community to realise the health, welfare and economic benefits of the MPA in ways that don’t compromise the prosperity and enjoyment of future generations.
To find out more detail on what we want to achieve and how, view the five-year management plan online through www.ascensionmpa.ac.
Ascension's MPA is an example to the rest of the world of what all of our oceans should and could look like in the future.