The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has welcomed the announcement by the government of Brazil of a proposal to expand its marine conservation efforts by creating two major protected areas around the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago and around the Islands of Trindade and of Martim Vaz.
The move represents a potentially significant contribution from Brazil to the global marine protection movement, increasing the protected areas in national seas from current 1.5 percent to 26.3 percent of the national maritime territory.
“The potential creation of these marine protected areas in remote areas of the Atlantic Ocean is good news for ocean protection and will also help Brazil meet the objectives of the GEF project on marine and coastal protection (GEF-Mar) that is directly benefitting traditional and fishing communities,” said Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Director of Programs.
The government proposal would raise Brazil to the highest levels of marine protection in comparison with other countries, which has been receiving wide support domestically and abroad, from various government sectors and civil society organizations.
A joint effort from the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Defense, the move envisages to reinforce national sovereignty in the South Atlantic, fulfilling national and international commitments to protecting at least 10% of its marine biome with biodiversity significance, following the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, the 2020 Aichi Goals, as well as the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
The rock islets of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, located near the Equator line at 1000km from Northeastern Brazil and 1900km from Western Africa, constitute the smallest and remotest tropical archipelago in the planet, visited in 1832 by Charles Darwin, who studied the isolation that favors uniquely endemic species that risk extinction today.
Further South, resulting from the collision between cold ocean waters and the magma of erupted volcanos from the mountain range underneath the South Atlantic around 3.5 million years ago, the island of Trindade is the only portion tipping above sea level of the 1000km mountain range. Along with the Island of Martim Vaz, Trindade would compose another major protected area in the announced plans of the government.