Chagos Islands, illegal fishing and war

This video from Britain is called My Island Home – Chagos Islands.

From Wildlife Extra:

Illegal fishing inside Chagos Marine Reserve

Greenpeace finds illegal fishing vessels & urges UK to enforce Chagos marine reserve

October 2012. Greenpeace found two illegal Sri Lankan fishing boats inside the Chagos Marine Reserve and has called on the UK government to enforce protection of this Indian Ocean reserve from pirate fishing.

Rainbow Warrior

The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior is currently transiting from Mauritius to the Maldives as part of its Indian Ocean expedition and found in total three fishing boats deep within the Chagos Marine Protected Area, established by the UK government in 2010.

Dozens of sharks & tuna

Onboard one vessel, identified as IMUL-A-0352KLT, Greenpeace found dozens of sharks, including thresher sharks, a protected species in this region. This boat is not on the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) list of registered vessels and is illegal. A second boat, identified as IMUL-A-12939MTR, was not on the IOTC list either and is illegal. Greenpeace also boarded that vessel, mainly finding skipjack tuna.

Gillnets and longlines

These fishing boats use indiscriminate gillnets and longlines to catch sharks, tuna and other marine life.

“We are demanding the UK government inspect these vessels and actively protect the marine reserve from illegal fishing. Without enforcement this protected area is not worth the paper it is written on,” said Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner Simon Clydesdale on board the Rainbow Warrior.

Greenpeace has given the details of the vessels to the regional authorities as well as the Foreign Office in London, urging Britain to send its patrol vessel the Pacific Marlin out from the nearby US military base Diego Garcia, where it was believed to be at anchor, to inspect the three vessels.

I mainly agree with this article. Yet, only this sentence of it deals with a problem even worse for the Chagos islands than illegal fishing: the Diego Garcia military base. To build that base, the inhabitants of the Chagos islands were forcibly driven away from their homeland; and they are still not allowed to return. Like military bases in general, that base is bad for the environment. Diego Garcia base has been used for torture. It has been used for war in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. And now, it may be used for yet another bloody war against Iran (fortunately, the London and Washington governments do not seem to be on the same page yet about this; and I hope that they never will).

Greenpeace encountered a third vessel, identified as IMUL-A-0341KLT. This boat was authorised to fish in the region but not inside the Chagos protected area.

Illegal fishing is a massive problem in the Indian Ocean. It is stealing from coastal communities and plunders marine life such as sharks.

As I noted, in the Chagos islands, the “coastal communities”, the Chagos islanders, were forcibly driven away to build the military base.

Boats that repeatedly fail to comply with the rules must be stopped. Our oceans need fewer fishing vessels that are properly controlled if we are to reverse the current overfishing crisis,” said Greenpeace International oceans campaigner Sari Tolvanen.

Greenpeace is calling on key market players and tuna brands to ensure they have a traceable supply chain and only source tuna that is legal and comes from sustainable sources.

The Rainbow Warrior is continuing its mission in the Indian Ocean to highlight the problems associated with excessive tuna fishing, unsustainable fishing practices, and the need for countries to cooperate and ensure that communities will benefit from the wealth coming from the oceans in the future.

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