Tuesday 5 January 2016

New marine reserve around Ascension Island in the Atlantic ocean

The UK government is to create a marine reserve almost as big as the UK in the  waters of Ascension Island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.

Just over half of the protected area will be closed to fishing. It is the latest marine reserve to be declared around remote islands, which will increase marine conservation zones to about 2% of the ocean. This is still much less than  the 30% recommended by scientists to preserve species and expand fish stocks, but is a step in the right direction.

Various governments have designated marine parks at Palau in the North Pacific, Easter Island
and Pitcairn in the South Pacific, and New Zealand's Kermadec islands, in what has become a
landmark year for ocean conservation.

The latest reserve at Ascension Island is said to hold some of the largest marlin in the world, one of the largest populations of green turtles, which breed there, big colonies of tropical seabirds and the Ascension frigate bird. The bird has brownish-black plumage and a deeply forked tail. It has a wingspan of around 2 m (6.6 ft). The male has a striking red gular sac which it inflates to attract a mate. They feed mainly on Flying fish.

The reserve totals 234,291 sq km, slightly less than the size of the United Kingdom. It could
be ready by 2017, once further data has been collected and analysed.

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