Ascension Island: Soon to be the largest marine protected area in the Atlantic Ocean

This large-scale Marine Protected Area (MPA) will cover 100% of Ascension’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), an area of more than 440,000 square km, making it one of the largest MPA’s in the world.

Published 3 years ago

Ascension Island, just 88 sq km, lies roughly halfway between the horn of South America and Africa and is part of a British Overseas Territory. Although a traditional port of call for ships on the Cape of Good Hope route, the few yachts that sail on this route only occasionally stop at Ascension.

Predominantly a communications center for the likes of the RAF, the US Air Force, and the European Space Agency, it’s what lies beneath the Island that makes its waters in need of protection.

This tiny island sits on the summit of a 10,000-foot underwater volcano,  like Tristan da Cunha and the Azores, on the mid-Atlantic volcanic ridge one of the world’s longest mountain ranges. This extensive deep-sea ecosystem houses an abundance of rare marine species and in excess of 25,000 green turtle nests are laid annually on the island.

In August 2019 the Ascension Island government announced plans to turn its national waters into a marine protected area, and this month the U.K. government confirmed they will allocate 7 million pounds ($8.5 million) for marine conservation, some of which will go towards maintaining the Ascension MPA.

Within the MPA it is proposed that commercial fishing and mineral extraction will be prohibited, mainly enforced using satellite monitoring.

Visiting yachts need to apply for a permit in advance, see Noonsite’s Ascension Island information for further details.

Further Reading: 

UK Government: Blue Belt – Ascension Island Update

Largest marine protected area in Atlantic Ocean will soon be official – National Geographic

Noonsite has not independently verified this information.

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