UK Approves Chagos Islands Marine Protection Plan

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chagos iles controverse refugié conservation

Manifestation d’exilés des Chagos en octobre 2008 devant le Parlement britannique. © AFP PHOTO/Shaun Curry

The British government announced on April 1st its decision to move forward in the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) covering the Chagos Islands. The BIOT consists of 55 small islands in a quarter of a million square miles, and will include a marine reserve where commercial fishing will be banned. The decision is reached amidst controversy as native Chagossians, who were resettled by the British government in the late 1960s and early 1970s after a U.S. air base was created on the island of Diego Garcia, believe the marine reserve will prevent their return. Foreign Secretary David Miliband stated “I have taken the decision to create this marine reserve following a full consultation, and careful consideration of the many issues and interests involved. The territory offers great scope for research in all fields of oceanography, biodiversity and many aspects of climate change, which are core research issues for UK science. We intend to continue to work closely with all interested stakeholders, both in the UK and internationally, in implementing the MPA.”

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