The UK Government is considering declaring the Chagos Archipelago the World’s largest Marine Protected Area, in order to conserve its globally important coral reefs and related ecosystems.
This is a unique and vital opportunity for marine conservation, but the issue is not as simple as that.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has launched a consultation on Chagos. The consultation proposes three main options for a Marine Protected Area, all of which exclude any kind of fisheries or similar marine activities within the reef areas.
What these options do not take account of are the wishes of the Chagossian community. The islanders were removed from their homeland by the British Government in the late 1960s and have been campaigning ever since for their right to return.
The full no-take protection of reef areas (as proposed by the consultation) would provide no means for resettled islanders to utilise their marine resources for subsistence or income generation. Communities and Marine Protected Areas coexist across the world, and there is no reason why the islanders could not be successful stewards of their coral reef environment.
We endorse the efforts of the Foreign Secretary to protect the marine ecosystems of the Chagos archipelago but we call on him to work with the Chagos islanders and the Government of Mauritius to devise an MPA solution that makes provision for resettlement and protects Mauritius’ legitimate interests.
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Petition is now closed.