Chagos Archipelago, Indian Ocean

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In 2010, BLUE was instrumental in the designation of the largest ‘no-take’ marine protected area in the world around the Chagos Archipelago, in partnership with the Bertarelli Foundation and the UK Government. Chagos, also known as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), is one of the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories.

The importance of Chagos both as a haven for marine biodiversity and as a site for scientific study is widely recognised, with the BIOT MPA making a significant contribution to global ocean research and conservation. As a near pristine environment the Chagos Archipelago provides a key reference site for marine research. The amount of research is growing year by year with six expeditions visiting Chagos in 2015. These studies provide critical data for use in marine conservation planning and management, particularly for other oceanic large-scale MPAs.

The legality of the BIOT MPA has, however, been questioned. In 2015 BLUE Legal Adviser Tom Appleby conducted a legal analysis of the dispute between the UK and Mauritius over the marine reserve declaration. Tom has also been considering the lessons learnt from the Chagos situation for future large-scale MPA designations.