Due to the London to Monaco’s huge success BLUE has been able to achieve more than we ever thought possible.
On Ascension we have been able to support a range of conservation initiatives carried out by the Ascension Island Conservation Department. We have provided equipment such as binoculars and microscopes for Ascension’s only school. The children wrote, saying: ‘thank you for showing us just how special Ascension really is.’ We have funded the turtle interns who spend months on the island ensuring that baby turtles survive in this major green turtle nesting site. And we have supported Ascension’s Conservation Department in many aspects of their work, from shark tagging to restoration of the trails on Green Mountain, to protecting endemic ferns. All this helps with our aim of establishing Ascension as a hub of conservation excellence in the middle of what could be the largest marine protected area in the Atlantic.
In the Aeolian Islands BLUE is creating the largest marine protected area of its kind in Italy. Local fishermen have come together to agree to sustainable fishing methods and research teams are mapping the marine environment from shallow seagrass meadows to unexplored underwater volcanoes, 1000 metres below the surface. BLUE has distributed information brochures throughout the archipelago and produced the first ever 360-degree underwater Aeolian film. Ghost nets are being removed and recycled, plastics collected and compressed, and thousands of reusable ‘More Fish – Less Plastic’ bags are replacing single-use shopping bags. BLUE’s intervention has already improved the sustainability of these incredible volcanic islands. Once designated, the marine protected area will restore and protect the seas around them.
In the Maldives BLUE is working to protect grouper, an important predatory coral reef fish, which is exported to Asia where it is highly valued for food. BLUE has been the first to verify and map grouper spawning aggregation sites in the Maldives. Identifying the locations of breeding grounds is the first step towards getting these sites protected. Thanks to BLUE’s extensive outreach programme, the grouper fishermen in the Maldives now recognise the need for fisheries management and want to protect grouper spawning aggregations. BLUE is currently in the process of writing management recommendations for the government. With the help of London to Monaco funding we will be able to develop management plans for these sites and funds will help support the implementation of new fisheries policies. Funding will also be used to develop new, larger scale initiatives for the Maldives following on from the success of the project.
In the Solent we are making good progress with our project to reintroduce millions of oysters into this busy waterway. Oysters were once abundant in the Solent, helping to keep the water clean and providing food and habitat for countless other species. Thanks to London to Monaco funding, we have been able to suspend more broodstock oysters in cages under marinas. An astonishing 90 different species have been found living in or around the cages. The school children who visit the project find it a fascinating day out and 130 local volunteers have been involved. Funding will also provide vital water analysis equipment for the project.
In Lyme Bay, BLUE has developed a win-win model that benefits both the marine environment and small-scale fishermen who are seeing higher prices for adhering to a set of voluntary codes of conduct for low-impact, responsible fishing. Since 2008, as a combined result of the ban on mobile gear and the collaborative approach introduced by BLUE, there has been a four-fold increase in flora and fauna reef species, a quadrupling of juvenile lobsters, a doubling of scallop landings and a quadrupling of flatfish catches. The model is now in its 7th year and has generated interest from other fisheries around the UK as well as further afield, placing it at the forefront of delivering a best-practice approach. The Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve is the UK flagship for marine protected areas and BLUE is confident that the Reserve can be used as a template for sustainable fishing in the UK and in other regions including the Mediterranean.
To learn more about BLUE’s work and impact in these areas since the ride: