The Blue Belt Programme

The Blue Belt Programme supports the UK Overseas Territories with the protection and sustainable management of their marine environments.

The Blue Belt is the UK Government’s flagship international marine conservation Programme. It works closely with UK Overseas Territories to assist them in creating and maintaining healthy and productive marine ecosystems.

The UK Overseas Territories are home around 90% of the UK’s biodiversity, and host a huge range of unique and endangered species, some of which are found no-where else on earth.

This flagship programme has been central to the UK Government’s ambition of leading action to tackle the serious global problems of overfishing, species extinction and climate change.

Objectives and funding

The Overseas Territories within the Blue Belt Programme are highlighted in the above image.

The Blue Belt aims to assist the UK Overseas Territories in protecting and enhancing ocean health to halt biodiversity loss, enable sustainable growth, ensure climate change resilience, and to connect people with the natural environment.

This highly ambitious Programme is leading the way in supporting the Territories in the effective management of their marine environments, and in ensuring they are safeguarded for future generations.

The Blue Belt Programme works across these core themes of work:

  • understanding and protecting biodiversity
  • strengthening governance and management frameworks
  • managing human impacts
  • assisting compliance and enforcement
  • capacity building and ocean literacy.

Between 2022 – 2025, the Programme will be funded directly by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s International Programme Fund.

The funding will provide ongoing support for the management, enforcement and scientific monitoring of Marine Protected Areas, and will allow us to develop our understanding of the effectiveness of the marine protection in place. We will also be able to support other OTs who wish to enhance their marine protection and sustainable management.

The Blue Belt Programme is supported by two world leading organisations – the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on behalf of the UK Government.


Clockwise from top left: two boats in the sea, a bird flying across the horizon, a person lowering a camera into water from a boat, a large vessel in sea by an island, penguins, two people fixing a drone, a whale shark.

The Blue Belt Programme has supported the UK Overseas Territories to enhance marine protection across more than 4.3 million square kilometres of marine environment.

See latest work and highlights from the Blue Belt Programme with the Annual Update 2022-2023:

Blue Belt Programme annual update 2022/23 (PDF, 2.21 MB, 13 pages)

For a detailed breakdown of Blue Belt Programme activities and achievements, see the below publications:


The Blue Belt Programme provides funding to two sub-programmes: the Blue Shield Programme, and the Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network.

These Programmes work with UK Overseas Territories to support them with specific elements of the marine conservation and management process.

The Blue Belt Ocean Shield

The Blue Belt Ocean Shield is a maritime domain awareness project, which works to assess and understand the activities that take place within the marine zones of Overseas Territories.

The Programme assists UKOTs to better understand the potential impacts of activities on the health and sustainability of their marine environments, and ultimately protect them from harmful activity.

The Blue Belt Ocean Shield

The Global Wildlife Analysis Network

This network of underwater cameras, known as Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS), will monitor biodiversity and marine ecosystems across the Overseas Territories.

Cameras will be deployed across the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans, and will improve understanding of these marine environments, helping ensure they are protected and sustainably managed for future generations.

Find out more:

Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network Summary (PDF, 2.45 MB, 4 pages)

Additional resources and publications

Below are a selection of public facing documents that have been produced by the Blue Belt Programme’

Research topic:

Working towards a blue future is a collection of recent research papers undertaken by both the Blue Belt Programme and key partners.

Pitcairn Islands whale watching code of conduct resources:

Climate change report cards:

Additional resources

Further information

To keep up to date with the Blue Belt Programme:

Blue Belt Logo
Published 24 October 2017
Last updated 28 September 2023 + show all updates
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