mark at mdspalding.co.uk mark at mdspalding.co.uk
Wed May 25 13:09:18 EDT 2011

   Who ever thought declaring an MPA could be so political? Or that Pew, and by
   inference such popular groups as the UK Marine Conservation Society or
   learned groups such as the Royal Society, would be formally accused of
   "aiding and abetting an illegal act" by supporting an MPA?

   Well the truth is that quite a few of us did, which was why, even before the
   MPA was declared we begged, urged and cajoled those same groups to engage in
   constructive  dialogue  with  Mauritius  and  the  Chagossians, as key
   stakeholders. To make partners instead of enemies. The risk here is that the
   world's largest no-take zone is dismantled either by the UK government
   itself or following reactionary diplomacy which could easily see a change of
   management or sovereignty.

   While I agree with most of Richard Dunne's summary of the meeting about
   Chagos, I think the best way out of this mess could still be dialogue and so
   would urge restraint in accusations. Pew has never formally said it is
   anti-resettlement and I believe it feels that a view on this lies outside
   its  jurisdiction - it holds no view. Perhaps that is untenable in the

   150 Chagossians attended the same meeting - grandparents who were shipped
   from  their  homes  and dumped on the docks in Mauritius 40 years ago,
   children,  even  grandchildren. It was a powerful reminder to the more
   academic among us that conservation almost always has a human face. That the
   fury of wrong heaped upon wrong has not exactly created a good atmosphere
   for building conservation plans "on the fly" (which is where I fear Pew may
   be  driving  us). But for all the anger and division it was also worth
   remembering that every single one of the Chagossians there were supportive
   of conservation in Chagos. Most want an MPA, perhaps even like this one.
   What on earth is wrong with engaging them, properly, in the design, planning
   and management?




   Mark D Spalding, PhD

   Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology

   University of Cambridge


   Date: Sun, 22 May 2011 17:33:34 +0100

   From: Richard Dunne <RichardPDunne at aol.com>


   To: Coral List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>

   Message-ID: <4DD93ADE.1050709 at aol.com>

   Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252; format=flowed

   CHAGOS MARINE PROTECTED AREA * Pew Environment Group vehemently opposed

   to Chagossian return to the Islands* - *Mauritian Government accuses Pew

   of complicity in an internationally unlawful act*

   A meeting organised in London last Thursday (19 May) at the Royal

   Geographical Society discussed future aspects of the Chagos MPA, and

   ways in which the evicted Chagossians could be involved in conservation,

   patrolling and research support on the islands. A proposal was put

   forward whereby a small eco-friendly Marine Park Base and Scientific

   Research Station staffed by Chagossians might be located on the Northern

   Atolls, 120nm from the US Military Base on Diego Garcia.

   The Guardian Newspaper revealed



   that immediately prior to the meeting conservation groups belonging to

   the Chagos Environment Network (CEN) were vehemently opposing any

   concept of Chagossian return. In e-mail exchanges, when one contributor

   wrote that some members of the CEN had "endorsed the concept of limited

   numbers of Chagossians living in the northern atolls to work on

   conservation and scientific monitoring", there was a sharp rebuke from

   both Alistair Gammell (Pew UK) and Jay Nelson (Director Pew's Global

   Ocean Legacy). Gammell retorted that "CEN has reached no such

   conclusion" whilst Nelson tersely remarked "I know for a fact not all

   groups would agree with that statement". Meanwhile activists for the

   Chagos Conservation Trust hurriedly circulated position papers from what

   they claimed were "31 distinguished international scientists" purporting

   to be a "review of BIOT scientific knowledge". At the meeting parts of

   the review were presented by Dr John Turner who informed the audience

   that sea level in the Chagos was rising at a rate of 1 mm per month

   (astonishing if it were true and probably a world record - but alas

   based on an error of analysis). In its documents, the Chagos

   Conservation Trust (a member of CEN) also made clear that any support

   for a permanent scientific "facility" amounted to little more than a

   storage shed for equipment on Diego Garcia!

   Also at the meeting, an eminent international lawyer speaking on behalf

   of the Mauritius Government accused the Pew Foundation of taking sides

   on the issue of Chagossian return to their homeland saying that: "Pew is

   involved in the dispute, Pew is perceived to have taken sides, Pew is

   seen as directly undermining the right of return and directly supporting

   the last vestige of British territorial colonialism in the Indian

   Ocean." and accused the Pew of being "complicit in an internationally

   unlawful act". The full text of this part of Mauritius' statement is below.


   Extract from Statement by the lawyer representing the Government of


   The Government of Mauritius notes that a number of non-governmental

   organisations are providing high-level support to the British Government

   in relation to the declaration of what we consider to be a patently

   illegal Marine Protected Area. Principal amongst these organisations is

   the Pew Foundation. This is a matter of the most serious concern to the

   Government of Mauritius, and it has drawn it to the attention of other

   governments. In effect, Pew and its supporters appear to be complicit in

   an internationally unlawful act. The Government of Mauritius has sought

   to engage with Pew, but efforts have been rebuffed. The Government of

   Mauritius wrote to the President of the Pew Charitable Trusts, Miss

   Rebecca Rimel, noting amongst other things that the Trusts had ?chosen

   to put the interests of purported conservation above the rights of

   Mauritius and the fundamental human right of forcibly displaced

   persons?. The Government of Mauritius also expressed regret ?that the

   Trusts also appear to have chosen to lend their support to a last

   vestige of colonialism in the Indian Ocean?. More to the point,

   Wikileaks documents show that the Trusts have worked closely with the

   United Kingdom, and are ?funding a public relations campaign in support

   of the [MPA]?. Mauritius expressed the view that ?such support may

   amount to the aiding and abetting of the unlawful actions of the United

   Kingdom?. The Government of Mauritius invited the President of the Pew

   Charitable Trusts to meet to discuss these matters. The Government of

   Mauritius was, to say the least, very surprised by the response, a copy

   of which I am making available to you today. The President of Pew told

   the Government of Mauritius ?that the relationship between Mauritius and

   the United Kingdom as it relates to the Chagos is a diplomatic matter

   between the two nations?, and therefore, ?I do not feel our involvement

   is appropriate and therefore respectfully decline your offer of a meeting?.

   It is readily apparent that the Pew has not recognised the gravity of

   the situation. It is, to say the least, surprising that an organisation

   of such calibre, and with which I have worked in the past, would decline

   to meet with a sovereign state embroiled in a major dispute over an area

   in which it is engaged. Let us be clear: Pew is involved in the dispute,

   Pew is perceived to have taken sides, Pew is seen as directly

   undermining the right of return and directly supporting the last vestige

   of British territorial colonialism in the Indian Ocean. It has to be

   assumed that it is acting with its eyes open, and that it is fully aware

   of the reputational and other consequences that will be felt around the



   Richard P Dunne

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