[Coral-List] Chagos MPA - a new perspective
RichardPDunne at aol.com
Wed Dec 8 09:46:33 EST 2010
Ted Morris' wish to see the Chagos as a wilderness park (aside from the
US Base on Diego Garcia) is admirable but is it realistic or necessary?
He fears that a Chagossian right of abode equates to the desecration of
the environment. Is this likely to be so?
Firstly, the resettlement plan to which he refers was produced in
response to the Foreign Office's (FCO) own studies in 2000 and 2002
which were never completed, and which were edited by the FCO to align
with their policy. All of those earlier studies are now outdated for a
variety of reasons, not least because of the MPA.
Secondly, a right of abode does not equate to a right to resettle the
islands because the land is exclusively owned by the British Government
(they bought it in the 1960s from the former plantation company). If
anyone is allowed to live on the islands it will be entirely on terms
and conditions laid down by the British Government as landowner.
Additionally, the British Government has, since 1991, had complete
jurisdiction over fisheries out to 200nm, and there are at present
numerous conservation areas on land which are highly regulated.
In these circumstances, the scenarios that Ted outlines - farms,
commercial fishing, tourism - or even a "glorified fish farm" are highly
improbable. Whilst we now know that the FCO intended to use the MPA to
exclude the Chagossians, and whilst we know the FCO does not have the
best track record for honesty, we should not expect them to suddenly
grant license to anyone to exploit these islands or their waters.
What is equally clear is that additional resources will be needed to
enforce this huge MPA (540,000 sq km) over and above a single (slow)
Fishery Protection vessel based at Diego Garcia, hundreds of miles from
the nearest of the 54 other islands. What better way than to place and
support small communities on strategic islands, some of whom are
employed as MPA Wardens. This would at least stop the poaching of
holothurians by Sri Lankan fishermen, provide regulation of any visiting
yachts, and allow the shallow waters of the Chagos Bank to be patrolled
from smaller vessels. And the FCO should also be willing to reconsider
its decision not to establish a marine research station, if we are to
maximise the scientific potential of this near pristine area. All these
present opportunities for the Chagossians.
The solution lies in dialogue, not confrontation, and a willingness to
right wrongs that the British Government admits that it did in the past.
The initiative has to come from the FCO, and the US Government has to
learn to relax its paranoia over security in the Chagos.
Richard P Dunne
On 07/12/2010 22:20, Ted Morris wrote:
> I would like to respond to something Mark said, and hope you will post this - it does not rely on reference to the not-to-be-named web information that the USG has banned any discussion of... ;-)
> Here's the posting:
> Mark states "We all know that highly effective MPAs can easily be established with people in them..."
> This is the primary practical argument used to justify resettlement of the Chagos ("human rights" being the political argument, and not the subject of this posting).
> I believe it would be more correct to say that "effective" inhabited MPAs are only possible when the inhabitants do not require the MPA for their economy or sustenance, and thus have as light a footprint as possible on the environment. Unfortunately, that is not the resettlement plan for the Chagos. Instead advocates propose to fund the return and long-term occupation of the Chagos by extracting food and economic sustenance from the environment though mechanisms such as commercial fishing, conversion of the terrestrial environment into farms of various kinds, and tourism. Although advocates propose harvesting only what is sustainably reproduced, that will result in a managed ecosystem.
> > From the first appearance of settlers in the Chagos ecosystem, they will of necessity begin to harvest everything they require to live and succeed economically. Although someone will place regulatory limits on the take, the first "harvest" will begin an unending cycle of management, transforming this priceless wilderness into a park, at best. In my opinion, this is not the highest and best use of the Chagos for the health of the planet.
> The rationale behind the creation of the Chagos MPA has been defined variously by different politicians, groups and people. Basically, these can be divided into those who believe the MPA should be managed to produce income sufficient to support a reestablished human population numbering in the thousands, and those, like me, who believe it should not be managed at all, but instead protected the way we idealistically attempt to treat wilderness here in the States - "take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints."
> One need only look at the draft minutes of the recent Chagos Conservation Trust annual meeting to see that already, just a month after the expiration of the last commercial fishing permit, the BIOT government is bemoaning the loss of revenue needed to administer the Territory. The seduction of money raised by licensing and permitting of extractive industry may prove to be too strong in the long run to preserve the wilderness condition of the CMPA even if the archipelago is kept uninhabited. If resettlement occurs, there can be no doubt that compromises and concerns for the occupant's economic health will result in the conversion of the MPA from undersea wilderness into a glorified fish farm.
> I'd like to point out that this does not mean that a return by the islanders should be denied entirely; there is the alternative of returning to Diego Garcia with preference in hiring on the military base, capitalizing on the existing infrastructure, observing the current environmental protections which prohibit economic exploitation of the island and surrounding waters, etc.
> The bottom line is that any resettlement of the "outer islands" of the Chagos would certainly mutate the MPA into something "effective" but unnatural, when the true value of the Chagos is as an unmolested ecosystem.
> I hope the readers of the List will consider this when evaluating any future postings by Mark or other resettlement advocates.
> Best Regards,
> Ted Morris, Jr.
> -----Original Message-----
> From:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Ofmark at mdspalding.co.uk
> Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2010 5:17 AM
> To:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] Chagos MPA - a new perspective
> Chagos is an area of reefs and reef islands that should interest us all - it
> has over 1% of the WORLD’s coral reefs and it is the world’s largest no-take
> MPA. The MPA was legally declared in April 2010 and all tuna fishing ended
> in November. In fact this latter action didn’t require MPA status and the
> site still has no regulations and no legal boundary.. Meanwhile the site’s
> declaration is being challenged in the legal system, and the expulsion of
> the Chagossians from the Chagos is due to come before the European Court of
> Human Rights soon.
> Readers may remember some earlier exchanges in which some of us suggested
> that setting up an MPA without the special involvement of key stakeholders
> (the exiled Chagossian people and the nation of Mauritius) was a mistake,
> with a likelihood of a future backfire which might even undermine
> biodiversity security long-term.
> <...expletives deleted...>
> Some 250,000 people voted in support of the Chagos MPA via the Avaaz
> network, an internet-based social activist grouping who are also strong on
> human rights. I spoke to Avaaz at length when they first put up their
> petition as it was clear that they were ill-informed about the human rights
> angle. They assured me that Chagossian interests were fully taken into
> consideration. They were wrong, and they misled a quarter of a million
> <...expletives deleted...>
> These reefs are a
> global treasure and need the most secure future possible. Many of us have
> argued that such a future could and should have been built up in
> collaboration with key stakeholders. We all know that highly effective MPAs
> can easily be established with people in them, so it was remarkably
> short-sighted to exclude them from discussions. My only hope now is that the
> many conservation organisations who have largely stonewalled these
> stakeholders will give up on the game of politics and see if, even at this
> late stage, they can build bridges.
> A week is a long time in politics, but its scarcely a breath in trying to
> ensure long-term biodiversity conservation – MPAs on this scale need to be
> very carefully built.
> Mark D Spalding, PhD
> Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology
> University of Cambridge
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