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Hugh: "Good news for Fish Fighters everywhere!"

World’s largest marine reserve created today by UK Government.

Hi River Cottage Fans and Fish Fighters everywhere,

I just want to share with you some brilliant news - though it’s pretty likely that those of you who follow us on social media will have picked it up already. As part of today’s budget, the Government made a commitment to create one of the world’s biggest marine reserves, around the British Overseas territory of Pitcairn island. It is an excellent step forwards towards better protection of our seas, and one that will make a genuine difference in a globally important marine habitat.

As you know our Fish Fight television programmes between 2011 and 2014 advocated greater marine protection in both UK waters and British Overseas Territories. And earlier this year I teamed up with a number of like-minded Conservation organisations and scientists to create the Great British Oceans Coalition, to raise awareness of marine conservation issues and persuade our leaders to take decisive action. The coalition includes, among others, our friends at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Zoological Society of London, the Blue Marine Foundation, the Marine Conservation Society, Greenpeace UK and the National Geographic Society. Together, we have been encouraging the Government to create fully protected marine reserves in the UK Overseas Territories, principally around the Pitcairn Islands, Ascension Island in the Atlantic and the South Sandwich Islands in the Southern Ocean. You can link to our coalition website and see what we’ve been up to here:

Today these conversations bore fantastic fruit, with a budgeted pledge to create and properly protect one of the most important new marine reserves in the world. Just enjoy the pictures here to see what a stunning area of Ocean will soon be under meaningful protection - free from the perils of over-fishing and illegal fishing, pollution and industrial extraction. The Pitcairn announcement shows this Government really can get things done when it comes to marine conservation. And it surely paves the way for even more protection of our seas, both overseas and here at home.

I know that River Cottage supporters everywhere, as well as the 870,000 Fish Fighters who signed up to our campaign, care hugely about protecting our marine life. I’d like to thank all of you for your amazing support over the last few years. And I’d like to congratulate you too. Because your engagement with this issue has been heard by our Government. Your voice has made a massive difference already.

And now, as well as helping to end the shameful practise of discards through changes in European law, and changing the way our supermarkets sell and label their fish to make sustainable choices that much easier for consumers, we can add to the list of your amazing achievements a huge and globally important new marine reserve. I really couldn’t be more thrilled if I was being given a tow by a whale shark!

So thank you all - and let’s keep on Fish Fighting!