Our goal of a very large, highly protected marine reserve for the Chagos was achieved in April 2010 with the British government’s designation of the Chagos as the world’s largest no-take marine reserve. More than 275,000 people from over 200 countries and territories supported this campaign which took over three years and the combined efforts of a number of UK NGOs and Pew.
During the campaign the loss of the approximately £800,000 a year earned from tuna licensing was frequently raised as a possible hurdle to the designation of the reserve. In the final months leading up to the designation, the Bertarelli Foundation offered to fill the funding gap left by the absence of fisheries income and thereby contribute to the costs of an enforcement boat for a period of five years.
On November 1, 2010, all legal commercial fishing in the Chagos’ waters ended.
The Chagos is now a safe refuge and breeding site for migratory and reef fish, marine mammals, birds, turtles, corals and other marine life. Pew continues to engage in efforts to ensure that the Chagos remains protected into the future by working closely with the Chagos Conservation Trust, a UK NGO devoted to the conservation of the Chagos. The Trust’s mission is to promote and conduct scientific and historical research and environmental conservation work in the Chagos, and work to advance international understanding of the global environmental importance of the Chagos to ensure its protection for the wider public benefit.
Scientific and conservation efforts are being undertaken to tell us more about these islands, remove invasive plant and animal species, and restore native vegetation. The Bertarelli Foundation has also continued to engage with the Chagos Marine Reserve and has launched a scientific initiative there to track large pelagic fish. These initiatives are all an important contribution to the conservation of Chagos, and global biodiversity.