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In Partnership with

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Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve

Since early 2011 the Pew Environment Group’s Global Ocean Legacy project worked with the Pitcairn islanders on the idea of establishing a large scale marine reserve within their waters. In March 2012 the National Geographic Society and Global Ocean Legacy conducted an expedition to Pitcairn to assess the health of the marine environment around all four islands, and also – for the first time ever – used dropcams, to investigate the deep water areas. The surveys revealed an incredibly healthy marine ecosystems, as well as plants and animals new to science.

The global biological value of the marine ecosystems of the Pitcairn Islands is outstanding, and deserves strict protection and recognition. A large no-take reserve, while allowing for traditional small-scale uses, conserves this unique environment, attracts scientific and conservation interest in studying and protecting the area, and also increases tourism to the islands, all of which benefit the local economy.
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These findings were presented to us here on the island, and it was the first time the residents of Pitcairn had a proper chance to see what’s going on under the water, and understand how precious the marine environment here is.

On March 18th, 2015, The British Government decided to establish the Largest Marine Reserve in the World around the Pitcairn Islands.

At 324,000 sq miles (834,000 sqkm) The Pitcairn Marine reserve will offer protection to some of the most pristine waters and coral reefs on earth.

The People of Pitcairn Island are extremely excited about designation of the Worlds Largest Marine Reserve in our vas and unspoiled waters, including Ducie, Oeno and Henderson Islands.

“We are proud to have developed and led this effort in partnership with Pew and National Geographic to protect these spectacular waters we call home for generations to come.”

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National Geographic Live: Enric Sala: Journey to the Pitcairn Islands

By National Geographic

Published on Mar 4, 2013
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala dives deep into the waters of one of the most pristine places on Earth — the Pitcairn Islands — only to discover its delicate ecosystem is not as unspoiled as it may seem.

Pitcairn Island drone video of mother and baby humpback whale

By Tony Probst

Published on October 6th, 2018
Pitcairn Island drone video of mother and baby humpback whale

Pitcairn Island Marine Reserve - Timeline

Early 2011
Pew's Global Ocean Legacy program starts work with the Pitcairn community on island and receive approval from Pitcairn Island Council to explore concept of Pitcairn Island Marine Reserve. Significant body of research and studies commissioned and shared.

March - April 2012
National Geographic and Pew conduct a scientific expedition to survey underwater health of Pitcairn Islands' ecosystem with permit granted by Island Council.

September 2012
Along with the island community, the Pitcairn Island Council votes to unanimously support the creation of a marine reserve around the Pitcairn Island.

November 2012
Formal launch of Pitcairn Island Marine Reserve campaign at the Royal Society in London by Pew, National Geographic, and Pitcairn Island Council, with film released about underwater bounty of the Pitcairn Island and the proposed marine reserve.

January 2013
The Pitcairn Island Council, Pew, and National Geographic submit a formal and joint proposal to UK government for the creation of the world's largest fully protected marine reserve in the Pitcairn Island.

February 2013

Pew form partnership with UK Government initiative Satellite Applications Catapult to address the challenge of monitoring marine reserves and illegal unreported unregulated fishing (IUU).

March 2013
Pew and Catapult host expert workshop to identify technologies to monitor IUU.

January - June 2013
Research commissioned at request of UK Government on marine reserve and its enforcement, economics, science, and tourism.

October - November 2013
Pitcairn Islanders travel to London and to the 3rd International Marine Protected Area Congress (IMPAC3) in France to educate UK government representatives on the value of and the island's support for the proposed marine reserve.

September 2013 - April 2014
The Virtual Watch room for Marine Reserves concept demonstrator initiates and develops.

January 2014
The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee publishes its report "Sustainability in the UK Overseas Territories" and includes in its formal recommendations that the UK Government must create the Pitcairn Island Marine Reserve.

September 2014
Zac Goldsmith MP hosts the UK Parliamentary launch of 'Marine Protected Areas in the UK's Overseas Territories' with statement of support read by community of Pitcairn.

Early December 2014
Pitcairn Islanders travel to London to provide local voice of support for Pitcairn Island Marine proposal and meet with UK government representatives, representatives of Catapult and NGOs among others.

December 2014
Pew makes an offer to the UK Government to support the monitoring of the Pitcairn Marine Reserve.

December 2014
UK Government hosts an expert meeting with the Marine Reserves Coalition to discuss marine reserves around Pitcairn and Ascension, chaired by Minister for Government Policy, Oliver Letwin MP.

January 2015
Prince Charles International Sustainability Unit, at Clarence House hosts cross-government work session 'Monitoring and enforcement systems for marine reserves' hosted.

January 2015
Caroline Spelman MP, Pew, and Satellite Applications Catapult host the Parliamentary launch of 'The Virtual Watch Room for Marine Reserves'.

January 2015
Trial of monitoring of the Pitcairn Island Marine Reserve begins, using satellite technology and a WaveGlider. Supported by the Pew Trusts and the Bertarelli Foundation

February 2015
John Randall MP, the Great British Oceans Coalition, and Sylvia Earle host event in the House of Commons 'Marine Protection in the UK Overseas Territories'.

February 2015
Pew meets with UK Government to discuss the monitoring and enforcement of Pitcairn Island Marine Reserve.

February 2015
Executives of the Great British Oceans Coalition write to Minister for Government Policy Oliver Letwin MP communicating their united support in the enforcement of Pitcairn Island Marine Reserve using satellite monitoring and regional political co-operation. A move away from traditional 'boots on deck' enforcement.

March 2015
The UKos Government announce their political commitment for a Marine Protection Area around the Pitcairn Island is in the Budget.

March 2015
The announcement receives wide spread media coverage, both nationally and internationally, crediting the UK Government's commitment to create the world's largest Marine Reserve and global leadership by the UK on the issue. The announcement also receives unanimous support from the Great British Oceans Coalition.

March 2015
UK Parliament prorogues for the 2015 General Election.

April 2015

Conservative Manifesto is published in Swindon re-stating the commitment for the Marine Reserve around the Pitcairn Islands and marine reserves around other UKOT's.

“We will create a 'Blue Belt' to protect precious marine habitats

Earlier this year, we announced the creation of a new Marine Protected Area around the Pitcairn Islands - the largest protected expanse of sea in the world. We will now go even further, creating a Blue Belt around the UK's 14 Overseas Territories, subject to local support and environmental need. We will designate a further protected area at Ascension Island, subject to the views of the local community.And, off our own coasts, we will complete the network of Marine Conservation Zones that we have already started, to create a UKBlue Belt of protected sites”.

April 2016
Culmination of trial of monitoring of the Reserve and presentation of results to the FCO

August 2016
Drafting of the Pitcairn Island MPA Ordinance. The legislation is significantly shaped by the Pitcairn Island Council

September 2016
Legal designation of Pitcairn Island Marine Reserve

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