[Coral-List] Chagos MPA

Richard Dunne RichardPDunne at aol.com
Fri Nov 5 13:42:10 EDT 2010

David Evans asks:

Dunne said [Coral List Nov 1 2010]: "The one illogicality is that she appears to assume that control of the fishery can only be achieved through a no-take MPA. In so doing, she ignores that there is an existing legal regime which has been in place for 19 years which permits the same degree of control. Indeed it is this legislation which has been used to suspend all fishing licences (as of 1 Nov 2010) and not the MPA, which does not yet exist."

Is this true?

Yes it is.
The current legislation is the Fisheries (Conservation and Management) 
Ordinance 4 1998 (originally 1991). Licences to fish were/are issued by 
The Director of Fisheries through the Marine Resources Assessment Group 
Ltd in London. The MPA exists in theory only. There is no legislation 
and there are no management policies in place other than those that have 
existed under present laws and have evolved over the past couple of 
decades. It is the existing rules that are being enforced. There are no 
changes from the present Fishery and Conservation Zone. Everything 
envisaged by way of an MPA, can and has already been achieved without 
recourse to an MPA.

Proponents of the MPA have recognised the existing strong protection in 
a statement in August 2009: "Whilst recognising that there is already 
relatively strong de facto environmental protection, MPA designation 
would greatly increase the coherence and overall value of existing BIOT 
conservation policies, providing a very cost-effective demonstration of 
UK government's commitment to environmental stewardship and halting 
biodiversity loss." The words "increased coherence and overall value" is 
surely a recognition that MPA designation is mere 'window dressing'. 
Politically, the MPA was seen as a cheap way of providing green 
credentials to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary 
Miliband in the dying days of the Labour Government, a legacy akin to 
the Bush declaration of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Monument.

A further problem is that the UK Government cannot progress the MPA 
until the UK Courts rule on a challenge by the Chagossians on its 
lawfulness. If that should succeed the MPA declaration may have to be 
rolled back and the consultation process started all over again. Three 
Queen's Counsel, and an array of lawyers does not come cheap, and it is 
the UK taxpayer who is paying all these costs. Money which could be 
better spent on enforcement, conservation or research.

So it seems that the Chagos MPA crusade and vision has served to open 
old wounds and stir up old hatreds both from the Chagossians and the 
governments of the Maldives and Mauritius. In so doing, not only has the 
legitimacy of the MPA been challenged both domestically and 
internationally but so too the existing legislation has been drawn into 
question. It would be a catastrophe if the MPA vision was to lead to 
less, not more protection as a result.

In the newspaper article to which our attention is drawn, Mr Owen refers 
to the "territorial waters" as being the Chagos "fully protected marine 
reserve" which he says came into force on 1 November 2010. The Chagos 
"territorial waters" however only extend 3nm offshore, and one can only 
conclude that he used the term incorrectly and instead meant to refer to 
the EEZ (200nm). It also seems that Mr Owen was misinformed about the 
nascent MPA. It serves to illustrate that we should be careful about 
what appears in the Press.

If one visits the FCO web pages for the Chagos, it can be seen that 
visiting yachtsmen are still allowed to catch fish by rod or line for 
personal consumption (British Indian Ocean Territory - Laws and Guidance 
for Visitors). These rules have not changed since February 2009. Further 
evidence, if it were needed, that the full "no take" MPA has yet to be 
declared or enforced down to this level. And even with an MPA the US 
personnel on Diego Garcia will continue annually to fish 25 tonnes of 
tuna and reef associated fish species purely for recreation and 
pleasure, a quite unnecessary waste of natural resources by a population 
who are probably the best and most expensively fed in the world.

Richard P Dunne

On 04/11/2010 17:45, David Evans wrote:
> Regarding Chagos MPA,
> The article in the independent is very interesting and raises very important
> issues in relation to environmental concerns for the oceans. Absolutely!!
> However, regarding reference to Dr. Heather Koldewey, I think Richard Dunne
> raised a very interesting and important point that really should be investigated
> further because of the very real enviro-social aspect of this story before the
> patting of backs and passing of cigars commences.
> Dunne said [Coral List Nov 1 2010]: "The one illogicality is that she appears to
> assume that control of the fishery can only be achieved through a no-take MPA.
> In so doing, she ignores that there is an existing legal regime which has been
> in place for 19 years which permits the same degree of control. Indeed it is
> this legislation which has been used to suspend all fishing licences (as of 1
> Nov 2010) and not the MPA, which does not yet exist."
> Is this true?
> The one question that I have not seen handled fully and in good faith is that
> of:
> What would the present day impacts of acknowledging the Chagossians rights be on
> the overall Goodness of the MPA?
> Would Acknowledging their rights negate the conservation benefits of the MPA?
> Are there benefits to Acknowledging their rights?
>      (... yes... I see... that's three questions... but it's the same idea)
> Boundary sizes have been discussed, along with enforcement, zonation, species
> affected... But the real impacts of re-settlement have not been discussed.
> Re-settlement does not mean: Boom return to a pre-eviction set up. From my
> understanding from what the Chagossians have very clearly stated, they are in
> favor of the ideals and intentions of the MPA.
> Maybe some real consideration might be given to what that might mean. I think if
> nothing else, they deserve that rather than flatly equating Chagossian rights
> with Anti-Conservation, negating the MPA, and destruction of the multifaceted
> Jewel that is Chagos.
> Time has been spent on the feasibility of re-settlement. But not in relation to
> the impact of re-settlement on the entire Chagos (terrestrial and marine
> including deep sea resources) MPA.
> So... Why again do the Chagossians have to be excluded from their own table in
> order for the MPA to be worth while? Because from what I understand... That's
> not making much sense...
> If the Chagossians didn't exist... then Wonderful! What a gift to the world the
> Conservation Efforts would be. But they do exist, and the Conservation Efforts
> can still be a wonderful gift to the world. I have not seen it adequately
> explained yet why that is not true.
> Regarding the patrolling of the large marine areas of the MPA, it wouldn't be US
> military jets patrolling, but rather the already very busy detachment of P3
> Orion submarine hunters and marine surveillance air craft (technically
> turboprops) out of Diego Garcia. I doubt though that surveilling fishery
> activity would be added to their mission descriptions (or maybe it already is...
> who knows!?!? but a no-take uninhabited MPA sure makes their jobs easier!!!).
> I know that we all (or most of us) would rather be focused on technical aspects
> of marine (coral reef) biology, physiology, ecology, etc... rather than these
> societal interactions and socio-environmental problems (god knows I would
> rather)... but without working out these things, the other stuff just gets
> washed away in the rising tide of human activities.
> Best Regards,
> David J. Evans
> <<<<<Sometimes maybe it's a matter of perspective or things working on a deeper
> level:
> "I  think it all comes down to what one calls truth. I'm not sure if it's  easy
> to define that word. When I was studying philosophy, one standard  subject for
> essays was: Is truth the opposite of a lie, or the opposite  of a mistake?"
> "What was your answer?" [she says.]
> "If  some of my colleagues are to be believed," Einstein replies with a final
> laugh, "I said that the opposite of truth is truth."
> From: Please, Mr. Einstein - a novel by Jean-Claude Carriere>>>>>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Message: 3
> Date: Thu, 04 Nov 2010 01:42:00 +0000
> From: Pete Raines<psr at coralcay.org>
> Subject: [Coral-List] Chagos MPA
> To:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Message-ID:<4CD20F68.7080007 at coralcay.org>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
> Dear Listers,
> I found this recent news snippet in the Independent worth a read:
> http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/britain-sets-up-the-worlds-largest-marine-reserve-2121367.html
> All the best,
> Pete Raines
> CEO, Coral Cay Conservation
> www.coralcay.org~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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