Fisheye lenses: UK launches world’s largest ocean monitoring system to protect wildlife and biodiversity

  • the world’s first network of underwater camera platforms is being deployed in the British Overseas Territories
  • the network will collect important biological information from the Caribbean, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Pacific and Southern Oceans, making it the largest ocean wildlife monitoring system in the world
  • the information gathered on marine life will help the British Overseas Territories protect their marine environment

The UK will become the first country to launch a major network of underwater camera platforms, funding the world’s largest ocean wildlife monitoring system to help protect life underwater.

The network is set up as part of the UK government’s Blue Belt program, which covers over 4 million square kilometers of ocean.

Camera systems – known as BRUVS – will allow the British Overseas Territories to observe and manage oceanic fauna in their various ecosystems. The non-intrusive method of capturing species information will be used to document the incredible marine biodiversity in 10 overseas territories: Pitcairn, Ascension, Saint Helena, Tristan da Cunha, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat and in the British Antarctic Territory.

The platforms are being deployed at a time when the health of the ocean is deteriorating and will allow scientists to improve their understanding of the marine environment and restore our oceans.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

The marine life living along the coasts of our overseas territories is one of the most spectacular in the world and we must do more to protect it.

Cutting-edge technologies, 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 there.

UK Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith said:

Understanding and protecting marine life is essential to maintaining the biological diversity of our world. 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.

The UK is committed to tackling the world’s biggest challenges, including climate change and loss of biodiversity. In addition to nurturing and developing the magnificent Blue Belt – 4 million square kilometers of marine protected areas around British Overseas Territories – we are building a strong network of international science and technology partnerships.

These UK-funded underwater video cameras will provide a wealth of information on the biodiversity of the seas around overseas territories, including globally threatened migratory shark and fish species, like bluefin tuna.

The 66 stereo bait remote underwater video systems (BRUVS) will be used to film and analyze data on many species, including white marlin, sailfish, silky sharks, black triggerfish, loggerhead turtles, Gouldian squid, large angled fish and sea snakes.

The 4-year program – named Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network – is expected to cost £ 2million and will provide information on ocean fauna found in the vast maritime areas of the Overseas Territories, in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. . It will also be used at the British Antarctic Survey Station, Rothera, in the Southern Ocean.

Perth, Western Australia-based project partner Blue Abacus pioneered the development of advanced carbon fiber BRUVS.

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 program will give policymakers the evidence they need to take decisive action for their blue economies.

We are delighted that the UK government and the Overseas Territories are supporting the search for increased knowledge as we rebuild our oceans. Our improvements to conventional underwater cameras are what make it possible to deploy this program across four ocean basins, the largest government-backed initiative of its kind in the world.

Blue Abacus will work with the 10 participating territories to provide a scientific benchmark of marine species and habitats in their maritime area, enabling territories to make more informed decisions on the protection and management of these various ecosystems.

Timothy Austin, Deputy Director, Research and Assessment, Cayman Islands Department of Environment, said:

The Cayman Islands Department of Environment is very excited to be part of the network that will bring the BRUV network to the Caribbean region for the first time. The opportunity to push this technology further offshore will dramatically improve the ability of the Cayman Islands to implement meaningful and effective conservation regimes for this limited, poorly understood, but critically important ecosystem.

Diane Baum, Director of Conservation and Fisheries, Ascension Island Government, said:

Ascension is committed to safeguarding its vast 445,000 square kilometer Marine Protected Area, but we recognize how difficult it will be. The support of the Blue Belt program and the possibility of joining this network will help us meet this challenge. Our previous use of BRUVS gave us insight into the astonishing diversity of our open ocean ecosystems and allowed us to identify biodiversity hotspots that require special protection. Being a part of this initiative will give Ascension the information we need to make good local management decisions.

This initiative builds on significant progress in improving our understanding of the marine environment of overseas territories through the Blue Belt program, and ensuring that these diverse ecosystems are protected and managed for future generations. Through the Blue Belt program, the overseas territories have implemented large-scale marine protection measures covering more than 4 million square kilometers.


Video and still images from the network of cameras are available from the FCDO communications office.

  • The UK’s Blue Belt program aims to improve marine protection in overseas territories. Marine protection measures are in place over 4 million square kilometers of ocean around the overseas territories, and the program has supported the territories to ensure these waters are managed effectively, with environmental monitoring and enforcement. Classes. The program has been backed by almost £ 25million in UK funding to date.

  • Blue Abacus pioneered a cost effective and easy to deploy carbon fiber stereo bait remote underwater video system (BRUVS) which captures underwater images of marine life from coastal reefs to the open ocean.

  • Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS) are an effective non-lethal data source for improving understanding of marine life. Composed of two small action cameras integrated in a base bar, a bait arm and a vertical post, BRUVS record all animals that appear in the overlapping field of view of the cameras. The first one BRUVS were deployed in the early 2000s to document fish communities in shallow coastal waters, expanding in 2014 for high seas monitoring. Since then, Professor Meeuwig’s team at the University of Western Australia has carried out more than 70 surveys in 35 international sites, obtaining registrations for more than 140,000 animals.

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