On 1st April 2010, the UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, announced the government’s intention to turn 247,000 square miles (640,000 square kilometres) of ocean around the Chagos Archipelago, known also as the British Indian Ocean Territory, into a no-take marine reserve. The area involved is larger than California and 60 times bigger than Yellowstone National Park. This act doubled the area of ocean under full protection.
The Chagos is a rare and globally significant marine ecosystem. Home to unique and critically endangered species, including over 220 types of coral and over 1,000 species of fish, the area’s unparalleled importance in terms of science and biodiversity is now fully protected, with fishing banned for 200 nautical miles around the 55 coral islands.
BLUE was able to secure the funding required to enforce the protection of the Chagos from the Bertarelli Foundation, a visionary, family-run donor organisation. The money will cover the cost of protecting Chagos for the first five years, after which the government undertakes to internalise the costs and to enforce the reserve indefinitely. It is an extraordinary, historic deal.
Henry Bellingham, Foreign Office minister for Overseas Territories, said the agreement was ‘a great example’ of how government could form ‘innovative partnerships with the private sector to deliver ambitious objectives.’ He expressed his gratitude to the Bertarelli family and the BLUE Marine Foundation.