BRITISH GOVERNMENT CREATES WORLDS LARGEST MARINE RESERVE AROUND CHAGOS ISLANDS
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The Chagos archipelago - which has been compared to both the Galapagos Islands and to Australia's Great Barrier Reef – is now the world’s largest marine reserve. Covering an area of approximately 545,000-sq-km - an area twice the size of the UK - it is regarded as one of the world's richest marine ecosystems. In addition, the reserve will also act as an environmental protection zone prohibiting industrial fishing and deep-sea mining.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had this to say on this ground breaking development:
‘...establishing the reserve would double the global coverage of the world's oceans under protection. Its creation is a major step forward for protecting the oceans, not just around BIOT [British Indian Ocean Territory] itself, but also throughout the world. This measure is a further demonstration of how the UK takes its international environmental responsibilities seriously...’
Chairman of the Chagos Conservation Trust William Marsden also added:
'...Today's decision by the British government is inspirational. It will protect a treasure trove of tropical, marine wildlife for posterity and create a safe haven for breeding fish stocks for the benefit of people in the region...'
However, there is a shadow over this new development as the former residents of the islands, who were evicted from the British overseas territory between 1967 and 1971, are still involved in a long-running legal battle for the right to return. Some of the islanders claim that the marine protected area (MPA) would severely jeopardise any future resettlement as it would prevent them from fishing in their local waters - their main source of income.
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Photographs courtesy of trinicenter.com and atopia.tk