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Old 27-02-2010, 06:22   #1
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Marine Sanctuary - Chagos Islands

This morning National Public Radio aired a segment on British PM Gordon Brown's deliberations on designating a huge tract of ocean, including the Chagos Islands, as a marine sanctuary. It was a brief segment and I was mostly asleep so I may have missed some important facts covered in the story. That said, what is the implication for cruising sailors visiting the area, besides the restrictions on visiting Diego Garcia? What are the implications for the original residents of the islands? It sounds as though the islanders will not be able to return and fishing will be completely banned.

While I am sympathetic to preserving the pristine state of the area, I am also of the opinion that there is often a middle ground that can result in the sustainable use of the resources. Residents and cruisers can be responsible users of the environment. The Bahamas are an example. When you get your fishing license along with your cruising permit you are asked to abide by the catch limits. Many parts of the Sea of Abaco are fished out, yet in that same body of water there are many fish on the protected (as in closed to fishing) artificial and natural reefs. The Bahamas Land and Sea Park is teeming with fish. The residents of Spanish Wells limit the size of their lobster fleet and are protective of their fishing grounds.

By the same token, while in George Town in winter 2001 I overheard a cruiser bragging to all around of his extreme abuse of the privilege of taking lobster from the west side of Great Exuma. Basically he had betrayed the trust of the local who showed him where to go. He single-handedly gave us all a black eye. Maybe I should not have held my tongue and kept my hands to myself.

I do give thought to these sorts of things (see my article http://isc.temple.edu/economics/wkpa..._Pre_Print.pdf) and would like to hear from others.
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Old 27-02-2010, 08:13   #2
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I do not get the 'residents' part at all. I have not been to Chagos, but everyone whom we ask says the place was full of cruising boats and there were no locals.

It is fun that Britich PM will tell anybody what is gonna happen to a piece of land that is deep into the Indian Ocean - I think it is what some small ocean nations call silent re-colonization. Probably some oil has been found there or maybe there is still some fish left to outfish.

Or else, something is going on in the British Empire (or in PM's political party) that the PM wants to detract your attention from. This would be my bet.

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Old 27-02-2010, 09:18   #3
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The residents of Chagos were relocated to other parts of the Indian Ocean in order to accommodate the US Naval Base at Diego Garcia.
Journalists are suggesting that Brown's decision is driven by his interest in a legacy upon leaving office. Recall that W made a similar grand gesture in the Pacific just before he left office.
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Old 27-02-2010, 10:26   #4
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So why not just kick out the militaries from Diego Garcia? They are not protecting nature there, are they?

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Old 27-02-2010, 11:01   #5
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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
So why not just kick out the militaries from Diego Garcia? They are not protecting nature there, are they?
I think it's now British in name only - talk recently of making the American occupation final by..........selling it to 'em Of course how the "locals" may feel about that is another thing.......ethnic cleansing? nah, not called that when "we" do it or benefit from

But knowing Gordon Brown he will probably give it away . to the Fish
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Old 27-02-2010, 20:30   #6
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Cruisers in the northern Chagos Archipelago

The native people of the Chagos Archipelago were not "relocated." They were forcibly exiled in the years up to 1973 by the UK, to make way for a US Naval base on Diego Garcia. Why this required the evacuation of atolls a hundred miles north of there is still not clear. DG is arguably American's most important foreign military base. They won't be leaving soon. The US Navy and Air Force have many concerns. Our right to cruise in the northern Chagos is not one of them

The people, known as Chagossians, are UK citizens and want the right to return to their homeland, or at least to the northern atolls, which have no current military value. The proposed Chagos Marine Protected Area is an attempt to ban them and cruisers from the northern atolls. All fishing would be banned, by everyone. The truth can be found here:
Protect Chagos | Marine Education Trust

The islands are a British Overseas Territory. This is disputed by Mauritius, who claims them.

The Chagossians have a case for resettlement of the northern atolls pending in the European Court of Human Rights, where a decision is expected by summer.

The cruisers visiting Peros Banhos and Salomon Atolls are an annoyance to most of the above players, but are of interest to the Chagossians, mostly for their skills which would be of great value to a resettled, very remote small community, and the GBP100 a month cruisers pay to anchor there.

Chagossians live in Mauritius, Seychelles and the UK. They have various leaders and interest groups and a measure of disunity. They are presently citizens of a territory from which they are banned. In the UK Parliament, they have some support and the scientists who want to exclude them and cruisers have some support. It is extremely complicated and the internet is full of misinformation about these issues. It's not simply a matter of military imperialism vs. a victimised native people, although the people have certainly been badly betrayed, the world was lied to when they were exiled and the whole thing is a sorry mess. Much depends on the outcome of the UK general election, to be held sometime in the coming four months.

The Chagossian matter will be resolved in the halls of power in London, where, regarding cruisers, those who matter don't care and those who care don't matter. Some of us are working for justice for the Chagossians. There's nothing you need to do except sign the petition mentioned above. If the people win, cruisers will win.

Kestrel, I'm in a remote part of thew world and can't get your pdf to open. I'll try again tomorrow.

Bob
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Old 28-02-2010, 10:52   #7
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Funny Mauritius can claim anything from the UK as Mauritius is a Commonweath colony itself.

Chagossians returning to the atolls will only further destroy the nature there. But damaged as it is already I think the UK project to make it 'the biggest .... blah, blah' in the World is just pure PR - pretending to intend to do something that is of little importance or consequence yet creates a lot of media fuss.

The places which are completely out of reach for cruisers and settlers are the only nature reserve I know of - no immediate human impact, no airfields, hotels, anchorages, no sewage, no spear fishing. Luckily, a couple of such places still exist.

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Old 28-02-2010, 11:33   #8
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"Commonwealth colony" is a term I haven't heard before. The Commonwealth is composed of independent nations that were once British colonies. Are you saying that by virtue of their Commonwealth membership, Australia and Canada are vassal states of the evil British or what?

A compromise between the scientists and the Chagossians could eliminate airfields, hotels, spear fishing and reef fishing, and minimise human impact and what's done with sewage and solid waste. Moorings could eliminate anchoring. It's a matter of regulations, enforcement and paying for it all.

The reef environment is what most of the conservationists are focused on at present. Most of the land environment was destroyed long ago when it was cleared for coconut production. Removing the invasives, including the rodents, and restoring the islands would be an enormous, expensive undertaking, but is part of the long term thinking of the scientists.

Bob
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Old 28-02-2010, 12:13   #9
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Hey Bob,

Why do you want to remove the rodents or, what you name 'invasives'. Remove = kill? Why do you want to kill something that is a part of the nature and that nature itself can regulate, without human intervention? The main 'invasives' being the islanders (already removed) and cruisers, once you 'remove' cruisers the problem will be solved. Remove = kill, or is making money on cruisers good enough?

I am sorry I cannot sign up to your vision of what and how has to be 'protected' or 'removed'. I have seen the same attitude in NZ and Aus and, in my eyes, it is not leading to any restoration but rather only induces further damage. Kick the cruisers out of the atolls, do not let any islanders re-settle and nature will do its own restoration job. At no cost ("restoring the islands would be an enormous, expensive undertaking, but is part of the long term thinking of the scientists").

Moorings may eliminate anchoring, but will not eliminate the sewage coming from the boats. Which makes more damage to the nature - the anchors, or the sewage? Or is it half-and-half. And how does it matter if we know from you that there will be 'enforcement and paying'. So, it is nothing about protecting the nature there, it is all about profiting from the hundreds of cruising boats that pass thru the place each year.

The long term thinking of the scientists is, as we know from history, marred by short term aims of businessmen and (funded by the same businessmen) politicians, you may like to include this element into your vision of how and why nature gets 'protected' by various states.

Finally, I am yet to sail to an island destination, where re-settling led to "eliminating airfields, hotels, spear fishing and reef fishing, and minimizing human impact and what's done with sewage and solid waste". In real life, it is always MORE airfields, hotels, spear fishing, impact and sewage.

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Old 28-02-2010, 13:07   #10
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I'm not here to give basic lessons in biodiversity conservation, native species or invasive species.

The rodents have eliminated bird nesting from all or most of the overmature coconut plantation jungles. Some people want birds, others prefer rats. Can we agree to allow each other to take the side we prefer?

I have not heard of cruisers emptying their holding tanks in the lagoons. If this is or becomes a problem, it can be prevented by squirting some harmless food dye into the heads, making it obvious to everyone if someone dumps their sewage.

No one is making huge profits from cruisers paying 3 Pounds a night to stay there. It doesn't even cover the cost of removing their garbage and taking it back to Diego Garcia.

Yes, populations are usually responsible for environmental horror stories. Doing it successfully will take a lot of goodwill, integrity and funding. I hope it will be done right, but I can't give you any guarantees. There are some good people involved, and others I don't trust at all. The reality is that there are a lot of conflicting interests, many of those involved are highly emotional, none of them are just going to go away, and some will prevail. Neither you nor I can determine the decision of the European Court of Human Rights or the result of the coming UK General Election. We can complain about colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, racism, academicism and even egoism. Meanwhile, things are moving, not necessarily forward, in the Chagos, mistakes have been made, and I need to try to do right. Each of us gets to decide what's "right," eh?

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Old 28-02-2010, 17:35   #11
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Hey Bob,

Your opinions in bold, mine in plain:

I'm not here to give basic lessons in biodiversity conservation, native species or invasive species.

I am not here to listen to any lessons. But I will gladly listen to sound arguments.

I have not heard of cruisers emptying their holding tanks in the lagoons.

Because most cruisers have brains enough to empty the toilets right away. How large do you think an average holding tank is? How many boats have you seen leaving any lagoon to empty the tank. I have seen none. (But I believe there are some cruisers who will do.)

If this is or becomes a problem, it can be prevented by squirting some harmless food dye into the heads, making it obvious to everyone if someone dumps their sewage.

Will yo also squirt the harmless food dye into the re-settlers toilets? Will you squirt the dye into the toilets of the US personel on DG. Will you have them empty their loos to the current-lee side of the atoll?

No one is making huge profits from cruisers paying 3 Pounds a night to stay there. It doesn't even cover the cost of removing their garbage and taking it back to Diego Garcia.

As far as I know cruisers, they tend to collect and dispose off their garbage in the proper manner. I do. And BTW, once you remove the cruisers garbage to Diego Garcia, what will you do with it? And what about the re-settlers garbage?

Yes, populations are usually responsible for environmental horror stories. Doing it successfully will take a lot of goodwill, integrity and funding.

So what the huge funding will be used for. You have not told us yet.

I hope it will be done right, but I can't give you any guarantees.

Typical. I have heard this before, from capitalists, politicians and lawyers. How many cruisers will buy a boat from a boatbuilder if he made a statement like this?

There are some good people involved, and others I don't trust at all.

How come some good people mix up with untrustworthy ones without getting their hands dirty?

Neither you nor I can determine the decision of the European Court of Human Rights or the result of the coming UK General Election.

Which is interesting, since we are EU citizens (and you may be a UK citizen). Are our representatives going to rule against our vote?

Each of us gets to decide what's "right," eh?

OK, but only as long as one of us is not in the position to force what he thinks is right on those who think differently. This would be an abuse of democracy.

barnie
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Old 28-02-2010, 19:15   #12
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Allowing the indigenous people back into their own country or not - I'd prefer to stay out of that discussion.

A marine sanctuary - has to be a good thing doesn't it? regardless of the political motivation that may lie behind it. Even if it were to place restrictions on cruisers, it would have my support. Even if it banned cruisers completely, it would have my support.

Regarding the current pollution that cruising boats bring to Chagos, There is undoubtedly some pollution generated, and some damage done by anchoring. This can be minimised further with some careful thought and responsibility by the cruisers and the provision of permanent moorings.

But I don't think the real threat to the marine environment in this area has been addressed in this post - There is a US Naval base in the area

I grew up next to a US Naval base - Holy Loch in Scotland, when they left in 1992 there was over 50 tons of debris in the loch. This is rubbish thrown over the side of one naval vessel and a floating drydock (actually a series of vessels, but only one at a time). It included a 40ft barge, 6 small vessels, rusting drums of chemicals, steel structures and the like and it was piled 30ft high at the bottom.

The US Navy / Gov't refused to clear it up.

I presume it is the same case in Diego Garcia.

I wonder if Mr Brown's plan will address this issue.
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Old 28-02-2010, 19:46   #13
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Hi Barnie,

"Will yo also squirt the harmless food dye into the re-settlers toilets? Will you squirt the dye into the toilets of the US personel on DG. Will you have them empty their loos to the current-lee side of the atoll?"

If I'm appointed Emperor of the World, yes. Otherwise, I'll do my best to do that in every loo in the northern atolls, on land and sea. There is little chance that Diego Garcia will become part of the proposed Marine Protected Area, so there's nothing I can do about that. (The US Navy's treatment of Diego Garcia's environment is a horror story, more so in the early 1970s.)

"As far as I know cruisers, they tend to collect and dispose off their garbage in the proper manner."

The same ones who dump their holding tanks in the lagoon? I don't know if you have a consistent position, or just like to argue. I suspect the latter, in which case you'll probably outlast me. The garbage in question is mostly metals and I think plastics. There's not a lot of it. Yet.

"And BTW, once you remove the cruisers garbage to Diego Garcia, what will you do with it?"

It will be given to the US Navy solid waste contractors, who haul it back to the US at great expense. Lord only knows what they do with it then.

"And what about the re-settlers garbage?"

"At least in theory, the northern atolls are managed as if they were a World Heritage Site (They're not, but anyone is free to use those standards.) This eliminates ocean dumping and burning. Landfills are out too, as bacteria and chemicals leach into the water lens of an atoll, which is higher than sea level. So garbage that can't be locally recycled has to be shipped out, and somebody, somewhere, has to be paid to take it. Like I said, doing it right is expensive. Ask the US Navy."

"So what the huge funding will be used for. You have not told us yet."

Trash removal. If there's any money left over, sea transportation to the Maldives, and perhaps even to Mumbai. It will require a combination passenger/cargo vessel, sufficiently comfortable to provide an "authentic island experience" to a very limited number of visitors.

I hope it will be done right, but I can't give you any guarantees.

"Typical. I have heard this before, from capitalists, politicians and lawyers. How many cruisers will buy a boat from a boatbuilder if he made a statement like this?"

Zero. But it's the best I can give you, without lying.

"There are some good people involved, and others I don't trust at all.

How come some good people mix up with untrustworthy ones without getting their hands dirty?"

Same way it's done in the other British Overseas Territories. It works better in some than in others. It's so bad in the Turks & Caicos Islands and Bermuda that it's embarrassing. But it works relatively well in St. Helena and the Falklands. When you design a better system, let us know. Meanwhile, we're stuck with democracy, which Ben Franklin said was two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for lunch.

Neither you nor I can determine the decision of the European Court of Human Rights or the result of the coming UK General Election.

"Which is interesting, since we are EU citizens (and you may be a UK citizen). Are our representatives going to rule against our vote?"

Identifying myself would severely limit what I feel I'm able to say here, so let's not get into who I am or how many passports I carry, ok?

The EU Court has nothing to do with the UK General Election, if that's what you're asking.

The main UK political parties have different policies on how to resolve the injustice visited upon the Chagossians. By Labour, by the way. So if there's a change in Government, I expect a change in policy.

The ECHR has about 50 judges. One is British. There is no possibility that he would be assigned to a case involving his own country.

Each of us gets to decide what's "right," eh?

"OK, but only as long as one of us is not in the position to force what he thinks is right on those who think differently. This would be an abuse of democracy."

While I agree with you, there must be reasonable limits. If I'm going to have urine-like dye poured into my head, it's only right if you permit the Dye Police to treat yours similarly. .

Bob
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Old 28-02-2010, 22:49   #14
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This is a very interesting thread with well stated points..so lets not let it get political or personal.
Thanks guys.
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Old 16-12-2010, 12:10   #15
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According to US information released under the Wikileaks programme on the Chagos Islands, the recently established marine park over the Chagos Is was a deliberate ploy to maintain US-UK defence relations and prevent the return of the islands inhabitants.

Forty years ago, thousands of people were forcibly and illegally removed from their homeland, the British Indian Ocean Territory, to make way for Diego Garcia, a US military base. The expulsion has been described by some as UK foreign policy’s darkest day. Since then the islanders have fought for the right to go home. They won it from the high court, but the privy council took it away.

It now seems, from US information released by WikiLeaks, that the Foreign Office has no regrets over its illegal action, and has been planning to destroy the islanders’ campaign by making their former home a marine sanctuary, in which no one would be allowed to live.

US embassy cables: Foreign Office does not regret evicting Chagos islanders | World news | guardian.co.uk

Sustainable Seas: WIkileaks and Chagos - what we suspected was true.

WikiLeaks and Chagos Documents emailed by UK Chagos Support Association chagosrefugeesgroup.net

See also: “Island of Shame: the secret history of the U.S. military base on Diego Garcia” by David Vine
http://books.google.ca/books?id=UaYI...page&q&f=false

More David Vine articles:

“The Other Guantanamo”
Foreign Policy In Focus | The Other Guantanamo

“Island Of Injustice: The U.S. Has a Moral Duty To the People of Diego Garcia”
David Vine - Island Of Injustice - washingtonpost.com

“Battle over bases”
Foreign Policy In Focus | Battle Over Bases

“Too Many Overseas Bases”
Foreign Policy In Focus | Too Many Overseas Bases

And if you're still interested, see:

“Empire of Bases”
by Hugh Gusterson

Before reading this article, try to answer this question: How many military bases does the United States have in other countries:
a) 100; b) 300; c) 700; or d) 1,000.

According to the Pentagon’s own list < http://www.defense.gov/pubs/BSR_2007_Baseline.pdf >, the answer is around 865, but if you include the new bases in Iraq and Afghanistan it is over a thousand. These thousand bases constitute 95 percent of all the military bases any country in the world maintains on any other country’s territory.
The old way of doing colonialism, practiced by the Europeans, was to take over entire countries and administer them. But this was clumsy. The United States has pioneered a leaner approach to global empire. As historian Chalmers Johnson says, “America’s version of the colony is the military base.” The United States, says Johnson, has an “empire of bases.”

Empire of bases | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
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