[Coral-List] News from the Chagos Archipelago

Richard Dunne RichardPDunne at aol.com
Fri Nov 15 12:22:06 EST 2013


The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have just announced 
that Dr Mark Spalding is the new Science Adviser to the British Indian 
Ocean Territory (BIOT) Commissioner. Mark replaces Charles Sheppard who 
held the position for 10 years.

Many of you will know Mark - he is a Senior Marine Scientist on the 
Global Marine Team with the Nature Conservancy and a Visiting Fellow in 
the Department of Zoology at Cambridge University. He is a co-author of 
the much respected UNEP/GCRM 'Reefs at Risk' publication. He has 
extensive research experience from the Chagos. For further biographical 
details see: http://www.zoo.cam.ac.uk/directory/dr-mark-spalding

Mark Spalding's appointment is good news, not only for the scientific 
impartiality that he brings to the post but because his appointment has 
such wide support, including amongst the Chagossian community. He 
strongly believes that the future of the Chagos Marine Protected Area 
demands that all stakeholders, including Chagossians, should be involved.

There is perhaps no coincidence that this new appointment has been made 
at this time as the British Government moves forward with its pledge to 
commence a new Resettlement Feasibility Study for the Chagos together 
with a fresh Policy Review.


Two weeks ago the Chagos Refugee Group celebrated its 30th anniversary 
since its founding in 1983. Celebrations and an International Conference 
were held in Mauritius. The Conference was opened by the President of 
Mauritius and speakers addressed the scientific, political, and legal 
aspects of the future use of the Chagos, including the possibility of 
resettlement. Chagossians made it clear that they wished to continue the 
high level of environmental protection of their islands. An initial 
resettlement of the island of Diego Garcia, which houses the US Military 
base and is not within the MPA was viewed as a real possibility.

Legal challenges to the MPA also continue. The Court of Appeal in London 
is due to hear the Chagossian challenge on 31 April 2014. The Mauritian 
case is also due to be heard by an International Tribunal for the Law of 
the Sea (ITLOS) sometime next year.

For those of you who wish to keep up with the news please see: 

Richard P Dunne

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