[Coral-List] Chagos MPA Dismantlement

Magnus Johnson m.johnson at hull.ac.uk
Mon Sep 20 17:47:44 EDT 2010

I don't shout at my computer very often but . . . Blimey!
1) Chagosians were forcibly removed from their homeland against (at least) the spirit of international law - it is now commonly referred to as "ethnic cleansing".  Environmentalism should not be used as a justification for unlawful acts.
2) MPAs are not a panacea-like solution to the problems facing the marine environment.  They wont deal with climate change, the distributional shifts in organisms that are likely to occur or the wastelands that will appear around them as unprotected areas take the full brunt of our activities.  They should be used sparingly and with the agreement of the folk they are likely to impact on because they can see they make sense in particular situations.  Politicians (with their simplistic belief in the erroneous equilibrium paradigm; i.e. the balance of nature) like them because they can draw lines on maps and then walk away with a feeling of a job done well.  The whole of the environment needs protecting and it needs to be done in such as way as to work with the behaviours of people.  I would rather see careful thought put into the development of a system that allows the Chagosians to manage THEIR seas well.
3) However much we think this is a jewel in the ocean, we who have built rich nations on the backs of slavery and exploitation of developing nations and who have plundered and pillaged our own marine and terrestrial ecosystems have no right to tell people (in this case mostly descendents of slaves) we have treated so badly how to manage theirs.  We should be taking the giant redwood out of our own eye before we pick the splinters out of others.
Cheers, Magnus
(Scientist and human being)


From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov on behalf of Ted Morris
Sent: Mon 20/09/2010 19:03
To: Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Chagos MPA Dismantlement

Dear Coral-Listers,

I never cease to be amazed at the incessant clamoring of politically active
folks in the UK to disassemble the Chagos MPA - both in British courts, and
in the realm of public opinion, including now in Coral List.

For example, Mr. Dunne recently claimed to the list that there are
"sustainable" ways to repopulate and exploit the Chagos.  That is absurd.
His appeal to the Convention's provisions for "sharing" with local people is
the equivalent of saying we must re-inhabit and harvest within MPAs.  Who in
the U.S. would ever dream of doing so within a wilderness area?  But that
seems to be the only solution proposed by the resettlement advocates.
Certainly in the Chagos, this will guarantee the loss of what is perhaps the
world's least damaged marine ecosystem, and, makes me wonder what is behind
these ceaseless proposals.

If the Chagossians - British Citizens - are to return, let them occupy the
non-military side of the Diego Garcia atoll.  It is, after all, a British
Territory, and certainly the UK could arrange for that to happen.  They
could capitalize on the infrastructure in place, the base and the MPA itself
could provide non-extractive jobs that would not disrupt the world's largest
"wilderness area", and the impact on the 99.9% of Chagos that is not DG
would be minor indeed, if not completely absent.

However, the previous proposals by the faction of which Mr. Dunne appears to
be part (the "Let Them Return" campaign and its successors) propose to
occupy the entire terrestrial Chagos - a area of less than 36 km2.  Those
earlier proposals involved the complete exploitation of the terrestrial
environment of the Chagos (turning it into a monoculture of sugar cane
plantations and "ecotourism" hotels constructed and operated by the tourism
industry from Mauritius), the transformation of the fishing industry to ship
directly from the islands - meaning the creation of industrial facilities
including seaports and airports - and a sideline of shipping fish and corals
to the mid-east for the exotic pet trade.

The mostly-European partisans are conducting what is a full-court press in
all available media - frankly, it is a brilliant propaganda campaign, but
the endgame is not clear at all.  I believe that if the resettle & exploit
crowd succeed, it will guarantee the loss of the Chagos as an undisturbed
ecosystem and as an essential barometer of the health of the oceans in this
time of uncertainty.  In addition, it will return the Chagossians to
fly-speck islands which have zero infrastructure, and turn them over to the
commercial interests of Mauritius which will treat them no better than they
have for the last 40 years.

There are alternatives to a future for the Chagossians as maids, janitors,
and cannery workers, while runoff from the cane field fertilizers and the
dredging of coral heads slowly but surely destroys their homeland.  It is
high time for people to stop claiming that return to the outer islands of
the Chagos and their exploitation is a valid option.


Ted Morris,

An Interested Amateur

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Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

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