Beautiful Cocos islands destroyed by militarism?

This video is called Cocos (Keeling) Islands – Australia.

From Neville Coleman’s site in Australia:

The idyllic Cocos (Keeling) Islands are made up of 27 separate coral islands, which are excellent for scuba diving, snorkeling and especially, for underwater photography.

The marine life is known to contain 528 species of fish, 89 species of echinoderms, seven reptiles, six marine mammals (including a resident dugong), 610 species of molluscs, 198 decapod crustaceans, 13 barnacles and 99 species of corals.

More on Cocos islands wildlife is here.

AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHIC and Sorel Wilby presents a new documentary on remote Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. From the internationally significant birdlife to the phenomenal migration of the red crabs, we cover the best of these islands: here.

By Peter Boyle in Australia:

Cocos Islands could be new base for the US killing machine

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands is a tiny group of coral atolls in the Indian Ocean 2800 kilometres north-west of Perth and 900 kilometres from Java. It has a population of about 600.

These islands were nominally a British territory between 1858 and 1955, when they were transferred by a British act of parliament to Australia. Yet for the next 17 years, the Australian government allowed the islands to operate as a private fiefdom of the Clunies-Ross family — just as the British had for 100 years before then.

The islands were uninhabited until 1826, when Alexander Hare, a former minor British colonial official, set up an establishment with about 50 slaves, mainly of Malay background, and a personal “harem” he had collected from many colonial outposts.

Hare was displaced a year later by his former business partner, John Clunies-Ross, a Scottish ship captain whose descendants enriched themselves on the labour of the Malay plantation workforce, who they paid with tokens that could be spent on only the company store.

The Malay islanders had no access to formal education, but the Clunies-Ross children were sent to private schools in Britain. The head of the Clunies-Ross family was the island’s lawmaker, judge and administrator. Anyone who did not accept his rule was banished.

So it is no surprise that, when the Cocos Islanders were finally given the choice between independence, free association and integration with Australia in 1984, they overwhelmingly voted in secret ballot for integration. Only members of the Clunies-Ross family and a couple of loyal servants were in favour of “independence”.

But the Australian government did not offer the islanders their liberation from semi-feudalism just out of respect for freedom.

Kenneth Chan, the Australian administrator on the Cocos Islands from 1983-85 admitted in a largely unnoticed academic paper he wrote in 1987 that the islands’ strategic location was the main motivation to acquire and integrate this Indian Ocean territory.

The islands were used as a military base by the British in World Wars I and II. Now, the US military wants the islands as a base for drones and other spy planes. Pentagon officials hope Australia will make up for a possible closure or downgrading of its main Indian Ocean island military base in Diego Garcia, which the US leased from Britain in 1966.

The US built its giant base on Diego Garcia in the 1970s after the 2000 Chagos Islanders were forcibly removed through trickery and starvation, a colonial crime exposed to the world relatively recently.

The US has used Diego Garcia as a base for nuclear weapons, marines, warships, bombers and spy planes. It has used it as a transit station for political prisoners sent for “rendition” to other countries so they can be tortured, though this is officially denied. Diego Garcia is a strategic hub of the US killing machine.

But the US lease runs out in 2016 and the Pentagon wants to relocate at least some of the military functions of the base to various Australian bases in Western Australia, Darwin and the Cocos Islands.

The Gillard Labor government and the Liberal-National opposition wholeheartedly support this process and have already agreed to station thousands of US marines in Darwin.

Green Left Weekly opposes all new US bases and campaigns for the closure of the existing nominally “joint US-Australian” military bases.

The first unit of American marines to be stationed in the city of Darwin has arrived, and preparations for US ships and long range bombers to use Australian military bases are proceeding apace: here.

10 top events on Christmas and Cocos islands: here.

3 thoughts on “Beautiful Cocos islands destroyed by militarism?

  1. Jungle Warfare Training Centre: NATO Troops Train In Australia

    Channel 9 News
    April 12, 2012

    Qld to host NATO camouflage trial19:56 AEDT Thu Apr 12 2012

    Australia is hosting an international trial to test the effectiveness of military camouflage uniforms in tropical conditions.

    Defence Science and Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon said that was being conducted at the Army Jungle Warfare Training Centre at Tully, north Queensland, with 10 Australian soldiers testing trial camouflage suits in a variety of environmental conditions.

    Mr Snowdon said Tully was selected for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) camouflage field trial because of its unique geography and natural tropical conditions.

    He said the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) was participating and would share the information from the trial process.

    “This is a significant activity to be hosted in Australia with participation from Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland,” he said in a statement.

    “The trial will also contribute to the ADF’s ongoing program to enhance the protection of Australian soldiers. It will improve our understanding of detection by modern sensors that can ‘see’ in the ultraviolet, visual, infrared and radar bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.”

    Mr Snowdon said the trials involved in-service and experimental clothing items, with NATO researchers using advanced imaging techniques to measure its effectiveness in the visual, ultraviolet, infrared and thermal spectrum under tropical conditions.

    “Importantly, the trial will provide valuable data to better inform the ADF Diggerworks program in current and future camouflage design concepts and assessment methods,” he said.


  2. Illegal fishing: 21st-century pirates plunder treasures of Costa Rica’s seas

    Damian Carrington joins a patrol boat on a hunt for pirate vessels looting the Cocos Island’s natural wealth.

    It’s just after dawn and on the gleaming Pacific Ocean, 365 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, the hunt is on for pirates. But these 21st-century buccaneers are looting the treasure beneath the waves, not the gold and silver coins buried long ago on Cocos Island a few miles away.

    Cocos, the remote emerald tip of a towering underwater mountain range which was the setting for the fictional Isla Nublar in the novel Jurassic Park, has served as a pirate hideaway, whaling station, penal colony and a pit stop for Colombian drug runners. It is the most shark-rich island on Earth and its underwater flanks serve as a nursery for myriad marine species, many unique.

    But these extraordinary riches are being plundered by illegal fishing, with many sharks, rays, turtles and mantas among the devastating collateral damage of longline tuna fishing. It is part of a global illegal fishing crisis worth $10-23bn a year that results in 100m sharks killed every year.

    To combat the carnage, a new $1.5m radar system is being built – with backing from philanthropists including the actor Leonardo di Caprio – that will pinpoint pirate vessels up to 70 miles out. This will help enforce a new enlarged marine protection area that entered into force on 11 April.

    The radar, the first of 13 in Costa Rica, will be followed by the first station and speedboat on Cocos of the national coastguard, which has greater legal powers.

    Current efforts to counter the pirates are limited by resources and the size of the area that must be covered. On the 36-foot Cocos Island national park patrol boat, Captain Isaac Chinchilla points north-east into the steamy distance: “The fishing boats are usually there.”

    After six miles of empty ocean, a grotesque sight bobs into view: eight feet of hacked-up, rotting whale carcass enmeshed in thick black netting, with one tail fin floating pink and raw. Attached is a wooden raft and a solar-powered radio buoy. The strange craft is designed to attract bait fish and is the first sign of piracy. “We are finding more and more of these,” says Chinchilla. “It is a new technique the pirates are using.”

    A few miles on, a pale dot winks from the bright blue horizon. It is right on the cusp of the 12-mile limit within which fishing is totally forbidden. “If they have a longline attached, they will have seen us and cut it by now,” says Chinchilla. Soon another dot appears, then two more.z_p20-Illegal-fishing.jpg

    The patrol boat’s engine roars and we race towards a fishing boat that has come into view and inside the forbidden zone. Half a mile off, the pirate vessel’s chimney gives a great belch of dirty fumes and surges away. The pursuit is on, but the patrol boat runs it down: the capture is made precisely 56 yards inside the forbidden zone.

    The pirate boat, Coopepes 20, is a rusting 60ft fishing vessel, its longline winch clear on the rear deck, alongside a barrel brimming with shining hooks. Its captain, bearded and with a thick silver chain on his bare chest, greets Chinchilla cautiously. Juan Carlos Barrantes tells Chinchilla he is low on fuel and drifted into the forbidden zone by accident. “So how did you run away so fast?” asks Chinchilla. “Well, I had a little left,” says Barrantes. It seems neither men believe the stories.

    Barrantes tells the Guardian: “We don’t agree with the no-take zone, though we have to respect it. But where else are we going to fish?” With a heavily tattooed crewmate, he tilts the barrel of hooks for inspection: “Look, the hooks are here. We are not fishing illegally.” Some of the hooks are J-shaped, outlawed since 2003.

    Barrantes explains why he does not seek an easier way to make a living: “I have no education: I have to stay in fishing.”

    Chinchilla issues a formal warning, his only power unless fishers are caught red-handed. But he adds that this encounter was a surprisingly pleasant one. Previously, the patrol boat has been rammed and Chinchilla and his crew routinely receive death threats.

    Barrantes is now one of dozens of illegal fishermen caught in recent years, but only one has been convicted in a decade and they escaped a prison sentence. Every one of the 30 or so pirate vessels that loot the Cocos national park, a Unesco world heritage site, are well known to Chinchilla and his team. “It is hugely frustrating,” he says.

    The undersea world at Cocos is as fantastical as the names of its inhabitants, from the sicklefin devil ray to the scarlet Mexican hogfish. Hammerhead sharks glide over a rocky floor studded with purple spiky urchins and cyan corals. Whitetip reef sharks laze ahead of their night-time feed, while mustard-yellow trumpetfish wriggle along past shoals of glittering bigeye jacks.

    There are a minimum of 1,700 marine species found here, dozens existing nowhere else. A recent scientific study concluded Cocos was “one of the most extraordinary marine ecosystems on the planet”, particularly for the huge number of top predators. Nearly eight tonnes of fish inhabit each 100-metre square patch of coastline, far exceeding the Galapagos Islands which are part of the same chain.

    But the illegal fishing lines, often 10km long, cause carnage. In the last two years alone, the park rangers have hauled in 364km of lines and 8,535 hooks, but this is likely to be a tiny proportion of the total set by fishermen. Shark finning, to serve Chinese diners, has also been a scourge.

    – The Guardian


  3. Pingback: Turtle, shark migration from Costa Rica to Ecuador | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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