Ascension Island is a tiny, remote, volcanic outpost in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between Brazil and the west coast of Africa. The island may look rather rugged, but the ocean that surrounds it happens to make up one of the world’s most pristine and biodiverse ocean ecosystems. And to make sure those ecosystems stay pristine, the nearly 170,000 square miles of ocean around Ascension Island will soon be officially protected.
On August 24, the Ascension Island government announced plans to turn its national waters into a marine protected area. On August 26, the UK government announced plans to set aside 7 million pounds ($8.5 million) for marine conservation. A portion of that money is expected to go toward maintaining the Ascension Island MPA, which costs an estimated 150,000 pounds per year to maintain. The total protected area is nearly twice the size of the entire U.K. and larger than the state of California.