The UK is launching what is said to be the world’s largest ocean monitoring system to help protect wildlife and biodiversity.
It is to become the first country to pioneer a major network of underwater camera rigs, which is being set up as part of the UK Government’s Blue Belt programme that covers more than four million square kilometres of ocean.
The camera systems, called baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS), will allow the UK’s Overseas Territories to observe and manage ocean wildlife.
Scientists from Cefas, the University of Western Australia and partners in the UKOTs are working with Blue Abacus, in a world first, to supply and analyse data collected from 66 non-intrusive BRUVS, which will be deployed in open ocean and coastal habitats.
Together these BRUVS will form the Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network, which will provide information on ocean biodiversity and ecosystems found in the vast maritime and coastal areas of the UKOTs in the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans.
The £2 million, four-year programme will enable researchers to see below the surface and provide a benchmark of scientific understanding of the marine species within their maritime area, allowing the UKOTs to take more informed decisions about protecting and managing these diverse ecosystems.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “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.”
The initiative builds on progress made through the Blue Belt programme to improve understanding of the marine environment of the UKOTs and to ensure these diverse ecosystems are protected and managed for future generations.