New “blue shield” for the British Overseas Territories to defend the oceans

  • The Blue Shield program provides comprehensive tools to defend the oceans against illegal fishing activities.
  • The support suite includes innovative technology and monitoring techniques.
  • Bermuda is heralded as the first overseas territory to join the Blue Shield program.

The Blue Shield program is a new UK government initiative to address the challenges of illegal fishing and illegal marine activities in the UK Overseas Territories. It will help the British Overseas Territories to strengthen the management and enforcement of their oceans.

Announced at this week’s Joint Ministerial Council (JMC), the Blue Shield program is the latest project funded by the UK government’s Blue Belt program, which protects more than 4 million square kilometers of ocean around the Overseas Territories. sea.

The Blue Shield program will identify and analyze activities likely to have an impact on the health and sustainability of marine environments in overseas territories. Illegal fishing and overfishing can cause significant damage to marine environments, threatening the sustainability of fish populations, ecosystems and the livelihoods of those who fish legally. Effective monitoring and surveillance can help reduce these risks.

Activities studied could include illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, commercial and recreational vessel activities, as well as navigation activities.

By putting in place compliance and enforcement frameworks, Blue Shield will help territories ensure their waters are protected and managed sustainably. Where appropriate, Blue Shield will also assist them in taking enforcement action in the event of non-compliance.

The overseas territories will also be supported by specialized training for island staff in order to strengthen local capacities, as well as access to innovative monitoring and enforcement techniques. These include:

  • Autonomous drone technology that can monitor large areas of the ocean for human activity and report its findings in real time.
  • Passive acoustic units, which, when deployed underwater, can monitor sounds from ships with GPS positioning systems turned off.
  • The latest satellite surveillance data can be used to monitor maritime activity across exclusive economic zones.

Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister of the Environment, said:

The new Blue Shield program will help UK Overseas Territories protect their critically important marine environments from illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and other damaging activities.

The program will provide training and use emerging law enforcement technologies such as drones and satellite surveillance.

I am absolutely delighted that Bermuda is the first territory to join the Blue Shield, and I look forward to a great partnership.

Bermuda announced today that it will be the first overseas territory to join Blue Shield. Program support to combat IUU fishing and manage vessel activity and marine development projects will support Bermuda’s current approach to protected areas management.

The Honorable Walter Roban, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Secretary of Bermuda, said:

I am very happy that Bermuda is participating in the Blue Shield program and I thank the UK government for their willingness to share vital technology that will help support the monitoring, protection and management of our marine environment.

Bermuda will continue to align with the highest standards necessary to protect our oceans. Following on from our prominent participation in the Sargasso Sea Commission, our involvement in the Blue Shield further strengthens Bermuda’s role as custodian of one of the most important marine ecosystems in the world.

Notes to Editors:

  • For more information on the Blue Shield program, please visit: Blue_Shield_A4.pdf (
  • Interviews are available on request
  • A series of other overseas territories are in talks to join the program
  • The attached photograph is a heat map, produced as part of the monitoring assistance provided to the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) under the Blue Belt program, and an example of what is available to overseas territories under the Blue Shield program. Photo credit Blue Belt Program / OceanMind About the Blue Belt Program:
  • The Blue Belt program is a UK government initiative to improve marine protection and the sustainable management of activities in the UK Overseas Territories.
  • Overseas Territories protecting their waters with the support of this program include Ascension Island, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, South Georgia and the Islands South Sandwich, the Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha – covering over 4 million km2, an area 17 times the size of the UK and over one percent of the entire ocean of the earth.
  • The overseas territories of the Blue Belt program have access to this important capacity, but it is now available through the Blue Shield for all other interested overseas territories.
  • This flagship program has been at the heart of the UK government’s ambition to take action to tackle the serious global issues of illegal fishing, species extinction and climate change. The program underpinned the UK’s 25-year environmental plan and supported the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Most recently, he supported the UK’s commitment to ensure that 30% of the world’s oceans are protected by 2030.
  • The Blue Belt program is executed by the TOs with the Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the Marine Management Organization (MMO).

For more information, please contact [email protected]

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