2 November 2012
THE Green Party of England and Wales has formally responded to the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands’ consultation on the conservation of its marine environment, urging the creation greater protection. These islands – an Overseas Territory of the UK with no resident human population - are home to over 100 million seabirds including the world's largest colony of chinstrap penguins, huge numbers of seals and recovering populations of whales. It is the most biologically diverse part of the Southern Ocean, with an abundance of marine species unrivalled even by the Galapagos.
Responding to the consultation, the Green Party endorsed the response by the Marine Reserves Coalition, a group of six leading conservation organisations dedicated to campaigning for the creation of highly protected marine reserves. You can read the response from the marine reserves coalition here: http://www.marinereservescoalition.org/2012/11/02/more-protection-needed-for-south-georgia-south-sandwich-islands-mpa/
The Green Party supports the creation of highly protected marine reserves to cover at least 30 percent of the ocean as one of a range of measures that, taken together, can fix our damaged seas. Currently less than one percent of our oceans are protected against industrial fishing and other damaging activities such as oil and gas drilling. With some scientists predicting a collapse of commercial fish stocks by 2050, this is clearly not enough.
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavillion, is taking part in an Environmental Audit Committee Enquiry into biodiversity of the UK Overseas Territories next month, and will use this opportunity to press for greater protection of the marine environment of these territories. Supporting the call for greater protection of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands’ waters, she said:
“Without a comprehensive and representative network of marine reserves across the world, over 1 billion people who rely on the sea for food and livelihoods face a bleak future. Oceans play a crucial role in regulation of our climate, and so protecting them is crucial for the health of our planet. Our sovereignty over the Overseas Territories may result from the colonial past, but through working together with the local communities of these territories where they exist, and through taking bold and ambitious action through our own government where they do not, we can help to create a positive future for the world’s oceans.”
By creating highly protected marine reserves in all areas of the South Georgia Maritime Zone that are currently not fished and in places that are the most important for marine wildlife, these biologically important areas will be protected from future threats. As industrial fishing continues to reach new parts of the ocean, the need for pre-emptive conservation action becomes ever greater if we are to protect places such as South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands – a true Serengeti of the Seas – for future generations.
You can read the Green Party’s Marine and Coastal Policy here: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mc
For more information on the Marine Reserves Coalition see: http://www.marinereservescoalition.org/