Why Greenpeace supports a Marine Reserve in the Chagos

Posted by Willie — 2 March 2010 at 12:00pm - Comments

Greenpeace believes that there is an overwhelming case for giving full protection to the waters of the Chagos as a no-take Marine Reserve and has now formally responded to the UK government's consultation on the Chagos Islands Marine Protected Area.

But the UK Government consultation does not address everything that needs to be addressed in the Chagos Islands: The Chagossian people, who were removed from the islands prior to the creation of the Diego Garcia military base, are still fighting for justice. Early Greenpeace campaigner Rex Weyler tells that sorry tale in his blog here.

Greenpeace wants to see justice for the Chagossians, and believes that on their return to the archipelago they must be fully involved in managing their waters and protecting their seas. Our submission points to some successful models whereby careful zonation has enabled small-scale sustainable fishing to be incorporated into large-scale Marine Reserves.

Moreover, Greenpeace is of course fundamentally opposed to the existence of the Diego Garcia military base.

You can read our full submission here.

In the submission we set out the rationale for why Marine Reserves are more effective than other kinds of marine protected area (MPA) and the need for large-scale protection.

Establishing a Marine Reserve would immediately start delivering tangible benefits to the environment and prohibit destructive fishing practices.

Some key points from our submission:

  • Greenpeace supports the creation of a no-take Marine Reserve in the Chagos archipelago. This type and scale of protected area is what we have been campaigning to establish for many years, and what globally our oceans desperately need. If created, this would be the largest no-take Marine Reserve in the world, but even then we would still be a long, long way off what we need, which is a global network of large-scale, fully-protected Marine Reserves covering some 40% of our oceans.
  • Creating a no-take marine reserve would not only allow exploited stocks to recover and thrive, but also give sanctuary to species likes sharks and turtles, as well as help make the coral reef system around the Chagos Islands more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
  • The Marine Reserve should be established without prejudice to the rights of the Chagossians or the sovereignty claim of Mauritius. The Chagossians have experienced an egregious and historic wrong for which the UK government should make full amends. Indeed, we believe another important rationale for the creation of a full no-take Marine Reserve is to put an immediate end to the ongoing commercial exploitation of these disputed waters prior to the resolution of the dispute.
  • Upon the return of the Chagossian people, Greenpeace would be happy to engage with them on how they can best develop small-scale, low-impact, sustainable fishing practices whilst continuing to ensure the effective protection of this globally-important ecosystem.
  • Greenpeace is of the view that the Diego Garcia nuclear-capacity military base represents a threat to the local and global environment, as well as to world peace, and should be abolished.

The establishment of a Marine Reserve is a first step towards securing a better and sustainable future for the Chagos Islands, a future which must include securing justice for the Chagossian people and the closure and removal of the military base.

About Willie

Hi, I'm Willie, I work with Greenpeace on all things ocean-related

Twitter: @williemackenzie

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