[Coral-List] Chagos (again!)

Mark Spalding mark at mdspalding.co.uk
Fri Jan 29 12:24:24 EST 2010

Perhaps I'm pushing people's tolerance, but I'm concerned that this subject
has been oversimplified.

Tim Ecott wrote "Unfortunately there is a good reason for the healthy status
of Chagos reefs: lack of people. I for one would vote for pretty much
anything that kept it that way" - fine, but what would he vote for? It
really isn't a decision of being for or against, fish versus people. So
here's a possible scenario:

June 2010 - UK govt declares no-take MPA over all of Chagos. Gordon Brown's
legacy (hooray)

Sept 2010 - Chagossians granted right to return by European Court of Human
Rights (hooray (different people shouting)

Sept 2010, 2 weeks later - First Chagossians arrive back in Chagos (remember
they were given this right once before, just 5 year or so ago, and are not
there now only because they didn't move fast enough). Sure the UK government
won't fund them, but there are plenty of rich people out there who do care
about human rights and might even fancy getting access to some beautiful
islands at the same time

Oct 2010 - FCO repeal MPA (as they have said they would)

Nov 2010 - horrified environmentalists learn of plans for an airstrip, a
hotel, a live-fish export trade from northern Chagos. They try to step in,
some through the courts (ha ha) others through diplomacy. They find the
Chagossians don't trust them, I wonder why?

Dec 2010 - FCO, far from being concerned, decide to cede the northern atolls
of Chagos to Mauritius. They are far enough away from the military base for
the US not to care.

I'm not saying this will happen, or even anything like it, but the various
elements are all possible. The all-out anti Chagossian, anti-Mauritian
approach is, in my mind a very high risk strategy FOR BIODIVERSITY. It might
pay off and then some can say "I told you so" but I will have to say that,
right now, they don't have a clue, because no-one does. Alternatively design
a strategy that builds a scenario for the POSSIBLE resettlement of Chagos,
in the eventuality that it could happen.

I am concerned that a poll, apparently with some 10,000 signatures, has
over-simplified the matter. A lot.

Mark Spalding
Cambridge etc.
mark at mdspalding.co.uk

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