The UK will pioneer the world’s largest ocean wildlife monitoring system to help protect life below water as part of the UK Government Blue Belt programme. The network is being set up as part of the UK Government Blue Belt programme – which covers more than 4 million square kilometres of ocean.
The camera systems – known as BRUVS – will allow the UK’s Overseas Territories to observe and manage ocean wildlife in their diverse ecosystems. The non-intrusive method of capturing information on species will be used to document the incredible marine biodiversity in 10 Overseas Territories: Pitcairn, Ascension, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat and within the British Antarctic Territory.
The rigs are being rolled out at a time when the health of the ocean is declining and will allow scientists to improve their understanding of the marine environment and restore our oceans.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “The marine wildlife living along the coastlines of our Overseas Territories is some of the most spectacular in the world and we must do more to protect it. Cutting-edge technology, such as these cameras, will be vital in our crusade against climate change. Our marine experts are world-leaders in protecting our ocean and the myriad of species that live within it.”
The UK’s Blue Belt programme aims to enhance marine protection in the Overseas Territories. Marine protection measures are in place across 4 million square kilometres of ocean around the Overseas Territories, and the programme has supported the Territories to ensure these waters are effectively managed, with environmental monitoring and enforcement ongoing. The programme has been supported by nearly £25 million of UK funding to date.
UK Minister for the Environment, Lord Goldsmith said, “Understanding and protecting marine life is essential to maintaining our world’s biological diversity. The lack of information on the variety and abundance of different species in large parts of the ocean makes it difficult for countries to protect them effectively. The UK is committed to tackling the biggest global challenges, including climate change and loss of biodiversity. In addition to nurturing and growing the magnificent Blue Belt – 4 million square kilometres of marine protected areas around UK Overseas territories – we are building a strong network of international science and technology partnerships.”
The 66 stereo-Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS) will be used to film and analyse data on many species, including white marlin, sailfish, silky sharks, black triggerfish, loggerhead turtles, Gould’s squid, bottlenose wedgefish and sea snakes.
The 4-year programme – named the Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network – is expected to cost £2 million and will provide information on the ocean wildlife found in the vast maritime areas of the Overseas Territories, in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. It will also be used at the British Antarctic Survey Station, Rothera, in the Southern Ocean.
Project partner Blue Abacus, based in Perth, Western Australia, has pioneered the development of cutting-edge carbon fibre BRUVS.