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South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands Marine Protected Area

Volume 541: debated on Tuesday 28 February 2012

We would like to draw the attention of the House to the announcement yesterday by the Government of the overseas territory of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, declaring a sustainable use marine protected area (MPA), covering over 1 million square kilometres of the territory’s maritime zone. The Government very much welcome this announcement, which means that waters around South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands are now one of the largest sustainably managed areas of ocean in the world.

The sustainable use marine protected area enshrines in legislation new and existing policies to ensure the highest standards of sustainable fisheries management. The declaration includes over 20,000 square kilometres of no-take zones, alongside a prohibition on commercial bottom trawling and depth limits on the use of commercial bottom longlining. These measures will provide protection for the sensitive biologically diverse seabed and support the protection of the fish stocks around each of the islands within the territory.

The South Georgia toothfish fishery has already been certified as sustainable and well managed by the Marine Stewardship Council. The MPA designation further underpins the sustainable management and environmental stewardship of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, as well as contributing to the UK’s wider commitment to the conservation of the southern ocean, through its leading role within the Commission for the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources. The Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands has also indicated its intention to undertake further scientific work during 2012 to identify whether further additional protection measures should be incorporated into the MPA designation in the future.