A remote island with just 245 residents is creating a marine protection zone triple the size of the UK to protect several species of endangered wildlife.
Officials at Tristan da Cunha, a British territory in the South Atlantic, said on Friday that fishing and other “extractive activities” will be banned on 242,181 square miles of ocean around the island, as well as around the archipelago’s three other major islands, in an effort to safeguard endangered rockhopper penguins, yellow-nosed albatross, and other species.
The sanctuary will be the biggest “no-take zone” in the Atlantic Ocean and the fourth largest anywhere in the world, protecting fish that live in the waters and tens of millions of seabirds that feed on them, the territory told the Associated Press.
The isolated region, roughly equidistant between South Africa and Argentina, supports 85 percent of the endangered northern rockhopper penguins, 11 species of whales and dolphins, and most of world’s sub-Antarctic fur seals, according to the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project.
“Our life on Tristan da Cunha has always been based around our relationship with the sea, and that continues today,” James Glass, the territory’s chief islander, said in a statement, according to the AP. “That’s why we’re fully protecting 90 percent of our waters, and we’re proud that we can play a key role in preserving the health of the oceans.”
The protection zone will become part of the U.K.’s Blue Belt Program, which is providing $35.5 million to promote marine conservation in the country’s overseas territories. The government is driven to achieve a target of protecting 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030.
The initiative has now protected 4.3 million square miles of marine environment, or 1 percent of the world’s oceans, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said.