Ascension : ASCENSION ISLAND CONSERVATION DEPARTMENT
Submitted by The Islander (Conservation Office) 12.12.2013 (Article Archived on 09.01.2014)
We were thrilled to find out last week that our grant application to Darwin Plus (a funding body for environment-based projects in the UK Overseas Territories) was successful and we have been awarded £261,000 to establish a Fisheries Unit on Ascension Island.
ASCENSION ISLAND CONSERVATION DEPARTMENT
Darwin Initiative Grant Success
We were thrilled to find out last week that our grant application to Darwin Plus (a funding body for environment-based projects in the UK Overseas Territories) was successful and we have been awarded £261,000 to establish a Fisheries Unit on Ascension Island. In collaboration with partners within the South Atlantic OTs and the UK, this project aims to substantially increase our marine biodiversity knowledge and fisheries science capacity. This will inform the development of the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) (another current Darwin Initiative funded project) for marine taxa and provide the science base needed for sustainably managed inshore and offshore fisheries.
Ascension Island harbours globally important marine biodiversity, potentially representing a unique assemblage of western and eastern Atlantic flora and fauna. The Island also supports a commercially valuable pelagic tuna fishery, and an inshore recreational fishery. Currently, however, a lack of baseline scientific data from the marine environment and a lack of capacity in marine and fisheries science within AIG are major barriers to the effective management and conservation of the Island’s marine resources. Addressing these issues has been identified as a strategic priority for AIG through the BAP project and as part of this new project we will be able to employ 3 fisheries workers to collect data on the abundance, distribution and biology of our endemic and commercially exploited species. The project will be carried out in partnership with the South Atlantic Environment Research Institute (SAERI) based in the Falklands and follows on from the expeditions of the Shallow Marine Survey Group (SMSG) in 2012 and 2013 (some of you may have attended their presentations) that generated the much needed baseline data for this project. Further support will also be given by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).
This is a very exciting project that will help to fill remaining knowledge gaps and build capacity and facilities at Ascension Island that will enable the sustainable management of marine resources well into the future so that fishermen can continue to catch fish and divers can continue to enjoy the spectacular underwater scenes for many years to come. Many thanks to the Darwin Initiative (co-funded by Defra, FCO and DFID in the UK Government) for their support on this important project and we hope to be able to work very closely with Island residents as we know that many people will have views on this work and informative insights into how to make it successful for everybody involved.
Of the 15 other projects funded in the UKOTs (from 44 proposals submitted), 5 went to St Helena, 3 to the Falklands and 1 to Tristan da Cunha, so the South Atlantic OTs have done extremely well in what was said to be a very competitive funding round!
The Conservation Office in Georgetown is open from 7:30am – 10am on week days but due to fieldwork commitments, staff will only sporadically be in the office throughout the rest of the day. We also open on Saturdays 10am -12noon. Please come in and see us if you are interested in finding out more about conservation work on Ascension or if you would like to purchase something from our shop!
Volunteers welcome. Please contact Natasha Williams or Jolene Sim. Ascension Island Conservation. Georgetown. Tel: 6359. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com