Diego Garcia (Global Adventures): Almost 60 tropical islands in the Indian Ocean known as the Chagos Archipelago just became part of the world’s largest marine reserve. The British government announced that 210,000 square miles of ocean.
The new reserve in the British Indian Ocean Territory is effectively doubling the world’s protected ocean areas. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said. Plans to cede the territory to Mauritius would not be affected by the move.
After that Conservationists welcomed the initiative as a step to protect some of the most precious coral reefs and ocean areas. “Foreign Minister David Miliband’s decision today to fully protect the Chagos Islands. Its surrounding waters is a historic victory for global ocean conservation,” said Jay Nelson. Director of Global Ocean Legacy, in a press release.
The U.K. government’s
decision follows a public consultation during which more than 275,000 people from over 200 nations. Territories sent messages in support of full protection of the Chagos Islands and their surrounding waters. Leading scientific and conservation organizations that voiced their support included the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Australian Institute of Marine Science. Firstly Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Oceana, Blue Ocean Institute, Birdlife International and the National Resources Defense Council.
“Nearly three quarters of the planet’s surface is water, but surprisingly little of it is protected,” said Nelson. “For more than a century we have had the foresight to protect the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park on land. But only recently have we turned our attention to protecting similarly significant places in the sea.”
17 different species of seabirds nest in huge colonies on many of the isolated islands. The atolls are home to large populations of coconut crab that can weigh up to 8.8 pounds and reach over 3.3 feet in leg span.
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