The British government recently decided to fund the largest ocean monitoring system in the world. The project will be run by the Blue Belt program, covering approximately four million square kilometers of ocean space. Its plan is to install underwater camera rigs to keep a close eye on marine life in its overseas territories.
This project is seen by many experts as a definite step in the right direction. As Jessica Meeuwig, a professor at the University of Western Australia, explains, since most of us can’t see exactly what’s taking place under the surface, we just assume that ocean wildlife is doing fine. But the reality is that it’s not. A recent study indicated that the population of sharks and rays has fallen by 71% since the 1970s, and others have suggested an alarming decline in yellowfin and bluefin tuna. Experts attribute these numbers to overfishing and climate change. And there’s not much that we’re doing about it. Only about 8% of oceans are formally categorized as “protected areas,” and most projects only try to protect wildlife near major landmarks.
That’s where the Blue Belt program comes in. Installing underwater camera rigs will greatly help marine biologists and other scientists to keep track of life in the water. After all, to protect, you need to observe.
Said Prime Minister Boris Johnson, “The marine wildlife living along the coastlines of our Overseas Territories is some of the most spectacular in the world and we must do more to protect it. Cutting-edge technology, such as these cameras, will be vital in our crusade against climate change. Our marine experts are world-leaders in protecting our ocean and the myriad of species that live within it.”