Chagos Marine Protected Area approved

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been a strong supporter of the Chagos Environment Network (CEN), a collaboration of nine leading conservation and scientific organisations, seeking to protect the rich biodiversity of the Chagos Islands and its surrounding waters.

On Thursday 1st April we received the wonderful news that the UK’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband announced the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) for the Chagos archipelago and waters. This will include a “no-take” marine reserve where commercial fishing will be banned.

Located in the centre of the Indian Ocean, the Chagos contain the world’s largest coral atoll and the greatest marine biodiversity under UK jurisdiction by far.

It has one of the healthiest reef systems in the cleanest waters in the world, supporting half the total area of good quality reefs in the Indian Ocean. As a result, the ecosystems of the Chagos have so far proven resilient to climate change and environmental disruptions.

The new Chagos Protected Area is as important as the Galapagos or the Great Barrier Reef. This declaration will make it the largest marine protected area in the world, totalling more than 210,000 square miles (544,000 square kilometres), an area twice the size of the UK.

However, all involved are keen to stress that the declaration of this marine reserve should not undermine the rights of Chagossians who are currently campaigning to return and re-settle these islands.

Chagos Clownfish, (c) Chas Anderson
Chagos map (c) David E Chandler Pew Environment Group