Network of underwater cameras to protect wildlife in UK Overseas Territories

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A network of underwater camera rigs will be used to protect wildlife in UK Overseas Territories.

The government says the network is the first of its kind and will be the world's largest ocean monitoring system protecting wildlife under the waves.

Sixty-six BRUVS (baited remote underwater video systems) will monitor wildlife in 10 Overseas Territories: Pitcairn, Ascension, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat and within the British Antarctic Territory.

They will film and analyse data on species such as white marlin, silky sharks, black triggerfish, loggerhead turtles, Gould's squid and sea snakes.

The £2m UK-funded network will help scientists improve their understanding of the marine environment and how to restore it.

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."

Environment minister Lord Goldsmith said: "The lack of information on the variety and abundance of different species in large parts of the ocean makes it difficult for countries to protect them effectively.

"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."

The scheme is funded as part of the UK government's Blue Belt programme and it involves scientists from Cefas, the University of Western Australia and partners in the UK Overseas Territories working with Blue Abacus.

Co-founder of Blue Abacus and professor at the University of Western Australia, Jessica Meeuwig, said: "The world's tuna, sharks and large reef fish continue to decline in numbers and this trend must be reversed.

"This programme will give decision-makers the evidence they need to act decisively in support of their blue economies."