World's Most Remote Island Creates Largest Atlantic Ocean Sanctuary
The island of Tristan da Cunha. VictoriaJStokes / iStock / Getty Images Plus
To reach Tristan da Cunha, a UK overseas territory, one must make a seven-day boat trip from South Africa, reported National Geographic. The island chain recently announced that 700,000 square kilometers (270,271 square miles), or 90% of its territorial waters, will be designated as a large marine protected area (MPA) to safeguard the area's rich biodiversity and endangered animals, The Guardian reported. At that size, it will be three times the size of Britain, the largest marine sanctuary in the Atlantic and the fourth largest in the world, providing refuge to sevengill sharks, whales and seals, AP News continued.
The new wildlife refuge will be a "no-take" zone, baning bottom-trawling fishing, deep-sea mining and other harmful and extractive harvesting from its waters, National Geographic reported. This will also protect the foraging grounds of tens of millions of seabirds that roost on the island, such as endangered Tristan and yellow-nosed albatross, Atlantic petrel and rockhopper penguins. Critically, these protections will bolster the small Tristan Rock Lobster commercial fishery outside the sanctuary, which is the territory's most important source of income, AP News reported. This luxury crayfish is sold to the U.S., Europe, Japan and China.
Experts believe that MPAs are a "silver bullet for conservation," Earth.org noted. The World Economic Forum (WEF) found that MPAs worldwide protect food supplies by leading to larger catch yields through "spillover," where fish from protected areas reproduce and enter fishing hotspots in greater abundance. Expanding the current network of protected areas by just 5% could boost global fish catch by at least 20%, the WEF asserted.
The protected area will join the UK's Blue Belt Programme, which has funded 27 million pounds ($35.5 million) to promote marine conservation in UK overseas territories, AP News reported. The initiative has protected 11.1 million square kilometers (4.3 million square miles) of marine environment, or 1% of the world's oceans, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, the report added.
The program continues to inch closer to the global target of protecting 30% of the world's oceans by 2030. Scientists believe that this is the minimum required percentage of protected habitat to preserve biodiversity and safeguard ecosystems and their functions. According to National Geographic, roughly 8% of the world's oceans are currently designated as MPAs, but only 2.6% are totally off limits to fishing.
Johnson said, "We need collective global action if we are to bequeath a world that is every bit as wonderful and magnificent as the one we inherited," reported The Guardian.
According to Earth.org, the UK holds a duty to protect wildlife found in all its territories and will take charge of monitoring and enforcement within the new MPA. This is especially important because the nearest habitation, Saint Helena, is 2,400 km away. Through the Blue Belt Programme, Tristan da Cunha will receive more resources to patrol for illegal fishing activity. Earth.org reported.
The Pew Bertarelli project, which promotes the creation of marine reserves around the world, also committed to help the archipelago protect its waters with technology that uses real-time data to evaluate ocean conditions and human activity such as fishing, AP News reported. The project is a joint venture of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Bertarelli Foundation.
"This small community is responsible for one of the biggest conservation achievements of 2020," Beccy Speight, chief executive of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) told AP News. "This will protect one of the most pristine marine environments on the planet."
James Glass, the territory's chief islander, said in a statement, "Our life on Tristan da Cunha has always been based around our relationship with the sea, and that continues today. 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," reported AP News.
While the British government lauded the effort and called on other governments to take similar action to meet the ambitious 30%, some critics were not impressed. They noted the hypocrisy of encouraging others to act when the UK allows bottom-trawling in all but two of its domestic offshore MPAs, in another Guardian article.
Jonathan Hall, head of UK overseas territory unit at the RSPB, told Earth.org, "We should also be looking at protecting UK waters. The contrast is stark. We have this small community that is showing leadership in protecting their waters, but there have been lots of examples this year where more effective management of our existing protected areas is needed."
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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