The UK and its 14 Overseas Territories are responsible for the fifth-largest area of ocean in the world, characterised by unique biodiversity — 94% of British endemic species can be found in and by these waters. In 2016, the government announced a four-year plan to protect four million km² of ocean. The plan proposed that these fragile ecosystems should be protected by a so-called Blue Belt, a series of marine protected areas in which human activities are strictly regulated to preserve their natural and cultural value.
The Blue Belt Programme Annual Update for the financial year 2017/18 contains evidence of numerous initiatives either begun or continued under this government, which involve working with the governments of Overseas Territories to enhance marine protection. The update makes clear that there is still work to do, but it says, “The UK is on course to protect over four million km² of ocean by 2020”.
The Blue Belt programme is a huge undertaking with vast numbers of moving parts, but it’s certainly a process we can say is ‘in progress’. We’ll move it to ‘done’ once measures are in place to protect all four million km² of ocean. Follow this policy for updates!