Protecting marine areas around Ascension Island, Atlantic Ocean

Blue Marine Foundation

At a glance

To avoid climate change and the collapse of the global food systems, at least 30 percent of world oceans need protection.1 Creating a marine protected area around Ascension Island will take the UK contribution to 32 percent, setting a global precedent and creating the largest marine protected area in the Atlantic.

The partners

Blue Marine Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the ocean to health. It creates marine reserves, restores habitats and establishes models of sustainable fishing. The Blue Marine Foundation works using a combination of top-down intervention to improve governance of seas and bottom-up project delivery to help local communities at the front line of ocean conservation.

The problem

Fishing fleets suspected of human rights abuses and shark finning were plundering Ascension’s waters for little financial return to the island. But, the island needed that income, so stopping the sale of fishing permits was difficult.

The solution

In 2019, the UK and Ascension Governments committed to creating a 100 percent marine protected area (MPA) in Ascension’s waters. This MPA will be the largest no-take zone in the Atlantic and the eighth largest in the world.

An innovative finance approach involves utilizing a GBP 2M donation to establish the Ascension Island Conservation Trust Fund, which will generate in perpetuity income for Ascension, replacing that from fishing permits. The success of this project will create a model for other islands to follow in the form of a handbook.

The evidence

Blue Marine Foundation's successes include: 

  • securing commitments to protect over four million km2 of ocean across 21 global project locations2 ; and
  •  Extensive research demonstrating marine reserves can mitigate and promote adaptation to climate change3

The Impact

  • Conservation Trust Fund set up and functioning
  • 100 percent marine protected area designated and 441,000 km2 of ocean placed under protection
  • HMG commit to satellite monitoring and enforcement of Ascension's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Comprehensive Spending Review
  • Funding for community projects to benefit residents
  • Development of handbook to guide other islands

Blue Marine Foundation works towards SDGs: