[Coral-List] Fw: Chagos MPA - Continuing international dispute overboundaries

Douglas Fenner dfenner at blueskynet.as
Tue Sep 28 22:41:32 EDT 2010

 The point the Maldives makes about Chagos not being  permanently inhabited 
is an interesting one.  Many atolls have been inhabited for very long 
periods, up to thousands of years.  But those same atolls may not be
 inhabited much longer, due to sea level rise.  I believe the presidents of 
Maldives and Kiribati have talked about planning for moving their entire 
populations.  My understanding is that even if all carbon emissions ended 
today (which it certainly won't), global temperatures will stabilize at 2-3 
C higher than a couple decades ago, but sea level rise will continue for at 
least 1000 years.  At 3 mm a year that would be about 3 m total rise, which 
may make most atolls uninhabitable.  In addition to Chagos and the Maldives, 
Kiribati, the Marshall Is, Tuvalu, and the Tuomotus are facing very serious 
problems for future inhabitability, let alone permanant living.  The problem 
is not of their making.  However, reefs can grow upward on the order of 3 mm 
a year, some even faster.  As reefs grow upward, storm waves could move 
rubble and sand up onto islands.  Although the storm waves sweeping across 
the islands would cause great problems for residents, the new deposits might 
keep up with sea level rise.  But in a few decades, mass coral bleaching 
events are predicted to start killing corals faster than they can recover 
their populations.  And acidification will be slowing coral skeleton growth 
and coralline algae growth.  The reefs are likely to loose the ability to 
keep up with sea level rise, and then atoll residents will indeed be in 
trouble as the sea continues to rise.
    "Permanent" is a long time.  I also note that some people talk about 
their transects as "permanent" and I doubt they are really permanent, that
 just sounds good.  (everybody also wants to know my "permanent address." 
Give me a break, nothing is permanent about me, sorry to say.)
     Anyhow, all this is not to say that work on local coral reef issues 
isn't vitally important.  I'm also not arguing in this for or against the 
Chagos MPA or return or anything, just pointing out that habitation on these
 low atolls may become marginal in just a few decades and is likely not 
permanent.    Doug

>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>> From: "Richard Dunne" <RichardPDunne at aol.com>
>> To: "Coral List" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>> Sent: Monday, September 27, 2010 11:47 PM
>> Subject: [Coral-List] Chagos MPA - Continuing international dispute 
>> overboundaries
>>>  Dear Listers
>>> On 26 July 2010 the Government of the Republic of the Maldives filed a
>>> submission to the United Nations (Commission on the Limits of the
>>> Continental Shelf) proposing to extend its seabed beyond the 200nm EEZ.
>>> The submission also clearly shows that the Maldivian EEZ overlaps an
>>> large area of the claimed Chagos Fisheries and Environment Zone, and the
>>> proposed MPA.
>>> The UK Government formally replied to the submission on 9 August, noting
>>> that it "does not take full account of the 200 nautical mile Fisheries
>>> and Environment Zones of the British Indian Ocean Territory", but that
>>> "The UK is fully committed to formalising these boundaries at the
>>> earliest opportunity with the Republic of Maldives".
>>> The UK and the Maldives last had discussions at a technical level in
>>> 1992 about the overlap of the respective 200nm claims. Dr Howells (UK
>>> Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs) confirmed in 2008 that
>>> formal agreement had still not been reached between the countries. On 9
>>> May 2010, the Maldivian Foreign Minister expressed concern over UK
>>> Foreign Secretary Milliband's declaration of the MPA, re-iterating that
>>> the demarcation line between the southern Maldives and Chagos had not
>>> been agreed. The Maldives contends that its claim to the area is
>>> supported by the fact that the Chagos is not permanently inhabited. To
>>> date there have been no further talks between the Maldives and the UK.
>>> -- 
>>> Richard P Dunne
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Coral-List mailing list
>>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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