FCO: Establishing a MPA in the British Indian Ocean Territory
Enclosed is both a covering letter and the main body of text which form the response from JNCC in reply to a consultation from FCO on establishing a MPA in the British Indian Ocean Territory. Submitted on 11th February 2010.
Summary of key points
JNCC is the statutory adviser to
Government on UK and international nature conservation and is
responsible for the identification of Marine Protected Sites
in UK offshore waters. The UK Government has recently committed to
a strategy for conserving biodiversity in the UK’s Overseas
Territories. JNCC took a lead on drafting this strategy and is
supporting government in its delivery of the strategy.
The case for protection and
effective management of biodiversity through a marine protected
area in the BIOT is clear and unequivocal. The marine biodiversity
of the archipelago is globally significant and is relatively
unspoilt by human activity. The BIOT proposal is an opportunity for
the UK government to establish a globally significant marine
protected area, demonstrate its commitment to global biodiversity
conservation and make a major contribution to the International
Year of Biodiversity.
Whilst JNCC believes that a BIOT
MPA will be a valuable addition to nature conservation of the BIOT
itself and the Indian Ocean generally, we do not believe that any
of the three options presented in the consultation would provide
effective management of the biodiversity of this territory. The
options presented focus primarily on fisheries management and fail
to address the full range of biodiversity management issues within
the BIOT area. We believe firmly that an MPA established without
proper consideration for necessary biodiversity management in broad
would be worse than no MPA at all. JNCC wishes to draw
attention to, and strongly supports, the more comprehensive view
stated in the Chagos Islands Management Plan which advocates a
‘comprehensive approach to ensure the long-term protection and
sustainable use of this region’.
We are also concerned that all of
the consultation options are based on a ‘no-take’ policy rather
than a flexible management approach and as such are not consistent
with UK marine conservation practice nor with global best practice
for establishing and managing marine protected areas.
JNCC therefore proposes a fourth
option for developing an MPA within BIOT. This approach to a BIOT
MPA would follow international best practice for coral reef systems
and adopt a zoning approach as the best way to manage a multiple
use marine area. The identification of zones in the MPA should be
based on the current best available science.
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Please cite as: JNCC Consultation 1009, (2010), FCO: Establishing a MPA in the British Indian Ocean Territory, Submission by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee