Media ReleaseFlourishing Oceans30 Nov 2020

Remote island Tristan da Cunha becomes one of the world’s biggest sanctuaries for wildlife

This month, the most remote inhabited island on Earth became one of the world’s biggest sanctuaries for marine life – thanks to an international partnership that is supporting the local community and protecting nature.


The community of Tristan da Cunha – a small chain of islands in the South Atlantic – has declared that almost 700,000km2 of its waters will become the largest no-take zone in the Atlantic and the fourth largest on the planet.

The protection zone – which is almost three times the size of the UK – will safeguard one of the world’s most pristine marine environments and protect the wealth of wildlife that lives there. The largely untouched wildlife haven is home to tens of millions of seabirds including albatross and penguins, plus whales, sharks and seals.

The marine protection zone around Tristan is the gold standard of marine protection, with no fishing or other extractive activities permitted across the whole area, also known as a ‘no-take zone’.

The large-scale declaration was enabled thanks to support from an international partnership including the Blue Nature Alliance, which has a goal to protect 30 per cent of the world’s oceans as Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

“This represents one of the most significant environmental announcements in the world this year. As a member of the Blue Nature Alliance, Minderoo Foundation is delighted to have played a supporting role in enabling this monumental win for the health of our oceans and the planet” said Minderoo Foundation’s Flourishing Oceans CEO Tony Worby.

Tristan da Cunha has a long history of protecting its unique environment and this latest success is the result of 20 years of hard work. This move makes the Tristan islanders the guardians of the largest no-take zone in the relatively unprotected Atlantic Ocean.

“Our life on Tristan da Cunha has always been based around our relationship with the sea, and that continues today. The Tristan community is deeply committed to conservation: on land, we’ve already declared protected status for more than half our territory. But the sea is our vital resource, for our economy and ultimately for our long-term survival. That’s why we’re fully protecting 90% of our waters – and we’re proud that we can play a key role in preserving the health of the oceans,” said James Glass, Tristan da Cunha Chief Islander.

A recent study by the University of California and the National Geographic Society (see notes) found that banning fishing in 5 per cent or more of the ocean would boost global fish catches by at least 20 per cent in future.

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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