Making the World's Largest MPA
Following pressure from the Chagos Environment Network which includes ZSL, The British Government created the Chagos Reserve in 2010. This is the largest marine protected area in the world, totalling more than 640,000km2 - an area twice the size of the UK.
Research suggested that before thre creation of the reserve, 90% of large fish species in the waters around Chagos were wiped out by commercial fishing, and remaining stocks were still persecuted. 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.
Over 275,000 people from over 200 nations and territories, as well as many leading scientific and conservation organisations, sent messages to the British Government supporting full protection of the Chagos Islands and their surrounding waters. As a fully protected marine reserve, all extractive activities, such as industrial fishing and deep sea mining were prohibited.
In autumn 2010 the British government announced that they fully supported the decision to establish the Chagos Marine Reserve.
- Outreach to the Chagossian community is ongoing, including a number of young people taking up scholarships to study coral reef conservation and the start of the Chagos Community Environment Project .
- The red-footed booby colony on Chagos is now the largest in the Indian Ocean.
- A scientific advisory panel for the marine reserve has been established
- Commercial fishing license expired in October 2010, and more than 10 vessels that were fishing illegally have been apprehended.