The U.K. government, under the Blue Belt program, has announced its plan to install underwater camera rigs for monitoring ocean wildlife in its overseas territories. The entire project will be funded by the U.K., making it the largest ocean monitoring system in the world. The Blue Belt program covers over 4 million square kilometers of ocean space, which the U.K. government has pledged to protect.

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Today, only 7.65% of oceans are categorized as protected areas. Unfortunately, most projects that target ocean wildlife protection only focus on major landmarks. According to Jessica Meeuwig, a professor at the University of Western Australia and co-creator of Blue Abacus, the project shifts attention from major landmarks to other areas of the ocean. Blue Abacus is a project partner and helped develop the technology known as Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS), which will be used to monitor marine life.

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Meeuwig explained most people assume that ocean wildlife is okay just because they can’t see what’s happening. By installing a network of underwater cameras, she noted that it will help document changes that happen to ocean wildlife.

whale shark eating small yellow fish

A study carried out in January revealed that the population of sharks and rays has fallen by 71% since the 1970s. The main causes of population reduction have been identified as overfishing and climate change. Other studies have also raised alarm over declining species including yellowfin and bluefin tuna. More and more research shows the need for protecting our oceans.

“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,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. “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.”

U.K. Minister for the Environment Lord Goldsmith said that the U.K. is committed to tackling global challenges such as ocean biodiversity loss and climate change, among others. He continued, “These UK-funded underwater video cameras will provide a wealth of information on the biodiversity in the seas around the Overseas Territories, including on globally threatened species of shark and migratory fish, like the bluefin tuna.”

+ Gov.uk

Via Huffington Post

Images by Marine Futures Lab, University of Western Australia via Gov.uk