The Blue Belt is the UK Government’s flagship international marine conservation Programme. It works closely with UK Overseas Territories to assist them in creating and maintaining healthy and productive marine ecosystems.
The UK Overseas Territories are home to around 90% of the UK’s biodiversity and host a huge range of unique and endangered species, some of which are found nowhere else on earth.
This flagship program has been central to the UK Government’s ambition of leading action to tackle the serious global problems of overfishing, species extinction, and climate change.
Objectives and funding
The Overseas Territories within the Blue Belt Programme are highlighted in the above image.
The Blue Belt aims to assist the UK Overseas Territories in protecting and enhancing ocean health to halt biodiversity loss, enable sustainable growth, ensure climate change resilience, and connect people with the natural environment.
This highly ambitious Programme is leading the way in supporting the Territories in the effective management of their marine environments, and in ensuring they are safeguarded for future generations.
The Blue Belt Programme works across these core themes of work:
- understanding and protecting biodiversity
- strengthening governance and management frameworks
- managing human impacts
- assisting compliance and enforcement
- capacity building and ocean literacy.
Between 2022 – 2025, the Programme will be funded directly by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office’s International Programme Fund.
The funding will provide ongoing support for the management, enforcement, and scientific monitoring of Marine Protected Areas, and will allow the development of an understanding of the effectiveness of marine protection. It will also be able to support other OTs who wish to enhance their marine protection and sustainable management.
The Blue Belt Programme is supported by two world-leading organizations – the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on behalf of the UK Government.
The Blue Belt Programme has given support to the UK Overseas Territories, enhancing marine protection across more than 4.3 million square kilometers of the marine environment.
To see the latest work and highlights from the Blue Belt Programme with the Annual Update 2021-2022 go to:
- Blue Belt Annual Report 2021/22 (PDF, 5.49 MB, 11 pages)
For a detailed breakdown of Blue Belt Programme activities and achievements, see the below publications:
- Blue Belt Annual Report 2021 (PDF, 3.87 MB, 13 pages)
- Blue Belt Programme 2016-2020 highlights (PDF, 10.6 MB, 10 pages)
- Blue Belt Programme annual update 2019/20 (PDF, 9.87 MB, 15 pages)
- Blue Belt Programme annual update 2018/19 (PDF, 13.9 MB, 17 pages)
- Blue Belt Programme annual update 2017/18 (PDF, 5.14 MB, 15 pages)
The Blue Belt Programme provides funding to two sub-programs: the Blue Shield Programme and the Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network.
These Programmes work with UK Overseas Territories to support them with specific elements of the marine conservation and management process.
The Blue Belt Ocean Shield
The Blue Belt Ocean Shield is a maritime domain awareness project, which works to assess and understand the activities that take place within the marine zones of Overseas Territories.
The Programme assists UKOTs to better understand the potential impacts of activities on the health and sustainability of their marine environments, and ultimately protect them from harmful activity.
Link to the report…
PDF, 2.01 MB, 3 pages
The Global Wildlife Analysis Network
This network of underwater cameras, known as Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS), will monitor biodiversity and marine ecosystems across the Overseas Territories.
Cameras will be deployed across the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, and Southern Oceans, and will improve understanding of these marine environments, helping ensure they are protected and sustainably managed for future generations.
Find out more:
Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network Summary (PDF, 2.45 MB, 4 pages)
The Blue Belt Programme is a powerful tool for the UK Overseas Territories to effectively manage their marine environments in order to safeguard them for future generations. Thanks to this program, more than 4.3 million square kilometers of the marine environment are now better protected from potential harm and human impact.
Sub-programs such as the Blue Shield Programme and Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network have also been established, providing additional support with specific elements of conservation and management processes.
The UK Government’s commitment towards protecting our oceans has never been stronger, thanks to the success of the Blue Belt Programme.
We can only hope that other nations will follow suit so we can ensure our precious ocean resources remain healthy for years to come.
Additional resources and publications
Below are a selection of public-facing documents that have been produced by the Blue Belt Program
Working towards a blue future is a collection of recent research papers undertaken by both the Blue Belt Programme and key partners.
Summary: Working towards a blue future (PDF, 3.46 MB, 4 pages)
Pitcairn Islands whale watching code of conduct resources:
- The Pitcairn Islands whale watching code of conduct – booklet (PDF, 3.51 MB, 8 pages)
- The Pitcairn Islands whale watching code of conduct – leaflet (PDF, 1.2 MB, 2 pages)
Climate change report cards:
- Climate change impacts on corals: report card (PDF, 4.91 MB, 16 pages)
- Tristan da Cunha update (PDF, 821 KB, 14 pages)
- Blue Belt: satellite surveillance, evaluation and next steps (PDF, 1.66 MB, 11 pages)
- Summary of unmanned aerial vehicle trails for use in UK Overseas Territories (PDF, 332 KB, 9 pages)
- St Helena Blue Belt workshop (PDF, 1.1 MB, 25 pages)
- Report on the Tristan da Cunha marine protection planning workshop (PDF, 568 KB, 23 pages)
- BIOT conservation management planning workshop report (PDF, 957 KB, 24 pages)
- Beyond the Blue Belt: technology for compliance and enforcement (PDF, 1.18 MB, 39 pages)
- Blue Belt Privacy Notice (PDF, 61.3 KB, 5 pages)
- Blue Belt Programme Roundtable: Protected Area Management Effectiveness (PDF, 2.82 MB, 47 pages)
- Socio-economic roundtable report (PDF, 925 KB, 36 pages)
- Blue Belt Programme Roundtable: Sustainable Financing Mechanisms for Marine Protection and Management (PDF, 994 KB, 31 pages)
Sources: THX News, The UK Government, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Marine Management Organisation, and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.