Following the incredible public support for Sir David Attenborough’s call to arms to back greater protections in our oceans during the BBC’s recent Blue Planet II, North Wiltshire MP James Gray took steps to press the Government to be unrelenting in its efforts to lead the world in marine conservation and establish a ‘Blue Belt’ of marine protected areas in all of the world’s oceans.
Mr Gray told fellow MPs during his Westminster Hall debate on the Blue Belt Programme and Marine Protected Areas yesterday that: “The Government’s Blue Belt Programme is a fantastic opportunity for us to do what is right in in the waters around Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and our 14 Overseas Territories”.
The Government launched the Blue Belt Programme in 2016 with the aim of working with the UK’s Overseas Territories to create a network of Marine Protected Areas covering some two million square miles of marine environment. Already, Marine Protected Areas have been established around South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands, St Helena and Pitcairn. The Government has further committed to designate Marine Protected Areas around Ascension and Tristan da Cunha by 2020.
Mr Gray also said: “The important point about Brexit is that it must not mean a lessening of any of the environmental standards in our oceans. Her Majesty’s Government must commit to ensuring that they are all higher than would have been the case had we remained a member of the EU”.