Creation of the largest marine protected area in the world
Friday 2 April 2010
The UK Government have designated the Chagos as a no-take marine reserve.
This declaration will make it the largest marine protected area in the world, totalling more than 210,000 square miles - an area twice the size of the UK. The combination of tropical islands, unspoiled coral reefs and adjacent oceanic abyss makes this area comparable in global importance to the Great Barrier Reef or Galapagos Islands.
As a fully protected marine reserve, all extractive activities, such as industrial fishing and deep sea mining will be prohibited. This decision will safeguard the rich diversity of marine life found in the Chagos.
More than 275,000 people from over 200 nations and territories, as well as many leading scientific and conservation organisations, sent messages in support of full protection of the Chagos Islands and their surrounding waters.
Research indicates that 90 percent of large fish species have been wiped out over the past five decades by commercial fishing, and the hunt for what remains continues unabated. No-take marine reserves are scientifically proven to be an effective tool to protect and restore marine ecosystems and the species they support.
The waters around the Chagos are by far the richest marine ecosystem under UK jurisdiction. They have the largest and some of the most diverse undisturbed reefs in the Indian Ocean and are home to the world’s biggest living coral structure – the Great Chagos Bank - with over 220 coral species (almost half the recorded species of the entire Indian Ocean) and more than 1,000 species of reef fish.
Following pressure from the Chagos Environment Network which includes ZSL, the government has made a truly historic decision and set a new global benchmark for responsible ocean stewardship.
Thank you to everyone who supported this campaign.