[Coral-List] The Chagos Archipelago - New Web Site

Richard Dunne RichardPDunne at aol.com
Wed Mar 7 03:41:08 EST 2012


A new web site has launched giving access to detailed information about 
the Chagos (also known as the British Indian Ocean Territory). 

The site provides a unique reference point to a wide range of material 
(scientific, general factual, legal, human rights, freedom of 
information). It is intended to be 'real time', being updated with 
material obtained from the British Government and other sources. A wide 
range of documents can be freely downloaded. There is also an extensive 
research bibliography.

The site is essential reading for any scientist who wishes to work in 
the area, or anyone interested in the Chagos. It also contains details 
of known research, past and current in the Chagos, and discussions of 
research areas that may be controversial.

The following extract from the website explains its full purpose:

This site contains information not normally available elsewhere. It has 
been obtained from a variety of sources, including the National 
Archives, other researchers, and Freedom of Information requests to UK 
and US authorities.

For many years, the British Government has been content to allow the 
Chagos Archipelago and the British Indian Ocean Territory to remain 
hidden from the public view; - secret deals with the US Government; the 
appalling treatment of the indigenous Chagossian population, leading to 
their exile; and the refusal to give redress for past Government 
actions. This attitude of concealment persists to the present day.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are required under 
Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation to pro-actively disseminate 
'environmental information' that it holds about the Chagos. By its own 
admission it is not doing so, despite the fact that it has in its 
possession much information of potential interest. Its reasoning behind 
this refusal is explained on the page 
 >. In the absence of meeting this obligation, this website in part 
helps to achieve this, with information which has been obtained under 
FOI requests. This is a slow an tortuous process, with the FCO dragging 
their heels and placing obstacles in the way.

The British Government has in the last few days attempted to block 
scientists and others from access to further information about the 
Chagos. In particular, two requests for access to pollution data for the 
island of Diego Garcia (where the US has a military base) have been 
refused. This is despite the fact that a recent paper (Sheppard et al. 
2012 "Reefs and islands of the Chagos Archipelago, Indian Ocean: why it 
is the world's largest no-take marine protected area" Aquatic Cons: 
Marine & Fresh Ecosys DOI: 10.1002/aqc.1248) has referred to this 
information, stating that "Diego Garcia is likely to be the cleanest 
inhabited atoll in the world". We ask "What is there to hide?" and will 
be pressing for release of this and further information through the 
British legal system.

Richard P Dunne

More information about the Coral-List mailing list