Establish a Marine Reserve in the Chagos Islands

The Chagos Islands, located near the centre of the Indian Ocean, are a UK Overseas territory and by far the richest marine ecosystem under British jurisdiction. They are a very special and rare place, a relatively unpolluted and undisturbed part of the world, with reefs and oceans still teeming with life.

Yet marine life almost everywhere – including fish, invertebrates, mammals, seabirds and turtles – is suffering massive losses as a result of over-exploitation, bycatch and pollution. Combine these with the effects of acidification brought about from rising carbon dioxide emissions, and the very survival of many marine species is in doubt.

With your help, we can protect the reef and ocean ecosystem of the Chagos for present and future generations. The public consultation period has been extended to 5 March 2010 – but we need your help to convince the UK government to protect the Chagos! Please sign our petition urging the British government to declare the world's largest marine protected area and give protection to one of the best coral reefs left on this planet.

Please note: Your signature and mailing address will be sent with the petition letter in hard copy to David Miliband as part of our campaign, and through British Freedom of Information legislation this could be made publicly available. Thank you for speaking out for our oceans!

Dear Mr Miliband,

Overfishing, bycatch, pollution, rising CO2 levels: these are some of the reasons that marine life in the world's oceans are suffering massive losses. The consequence is a loss of marine biodiversity that threatens our well-being and that of future generations -- because all life on our planet is essentially interrelated.

Fortunately, the British Government has an opportunity to reverse the disastrous direction of current ocean exploitation by declaring the Chagos Islands -- by far the richest marine ecosystem under UK jurisdiction -- a no-take marine protected area. The islands are rich with nesting seabirds and turtles, and are surrounded by some of the cleanest seas in the world, with extensive coral reefs in remarkably good condition.

Declaring the Chagos a no-take reserve would provide this invaluable area the maximum protection possible and, as the largest such zone in the world, would give the UK a leadership position in establishing a brighter future for our oceans. Especially in 2010 -- the International Year of Biodiversity -- the UK has an unparalleled opportunity.

Therefore, we fully support the proposal to protect the Chagos, and urge the Government to declare a full no-take marine reserve for the whole of the territorial waters and Environmental Preservation and Protection Zone (EPPZ)/Fisheries Conservation and Management Zone (FCMZ).
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