Chagos Archipelago

sheppard sh at
Fri Oct 31 02:02:06 EST 1997

A one page item in New Scientist of 18 October 1997 reported that the
coral reefs of the Chagos Archipelago, Indian Ocean have been badly
damaged by certain Indian Ocean states.  "Paradise lost to Pirates"
was its title, "Illegal fishing is wrecking a remote coral haven..."
a sub title, which shows the flavour of the piece, citing  myself as
authority of some of the "news".

These, and several points in the text, are wrong.   In fact Chagos is
probably the richest and least impacted set of  reefs in the Indian
Ocean.  There was a substantial reef research  project there last
year, and our results describing the work are due out in various
journals, many in a special issue of the Linnean Society of London.

But that won't be immediate.  Meanwhile, in the current climate of
careful recording of the state of the world's reefs, I would hate for
all those many good folks who are compiling useful accounts (e.g.
ReefBase, ReefWatch and  several more within ICRI, Year of the Oceans
et al) to be misled into noting down that some of the best reefs are
some of the most damaged, as I don't think reef conservation is served
by large exaggerations in either direction.

Best wishes
Charles Sheppard

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