As some of you may be aware, the British Government has just established the worldá largest Marine Protected Area, a no-take reserve encompassing the Chagos. I was one of the more than 275,000 supporters of this nitiative and more about it can be read at www.protectchagos.org
Yachting was mentioned in the official consultation, and the relevant section is peroduced below for your iinformation on what people said. I am hopeful that the yachting community will give full support for the implementation of this landmark protected area and am confident that responsible yachting will continue to be allowed there.
[full consultation report available at http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/p...-life-apr-2010
73. Yachting interests were represented by a number of yachtsmen/women and organisations who work with them. The Chagos archipelago is used by long distance transiting yachts in the Indian Ocean as a stopping point in a long voyage or as a safe haven from adverse weather. The yachts anchor in designated areas in Salomon and Peros Banhos, and tend to fish by hand line, for personal consumption.
74. The Consultation Document does not comment on the implications of any of the options for yachts. All of the yachting interests who commented argued for continuation of current arrangements for them (in some cases with minor changes not directly related to designation of an MPA). They argued that, if they were not able to stop in Chagos, the next potential stopping point for them would be Reunion, which would significantly increase their continuous time on the open sea and so increase risks. (One observed that the Seychelles had been an alternative destination, but the risk of piracy has made that less attractive). They pointed out that their numbers were few; their anchoring points were agreed with an environment adviser (in 2007); and that their limited fishing for personal use did not cause material damage. In addition, they noted that they contribute through fees for anchoring (£100 per yacht per month) and could be a helpful ‘eyes and ears’ against illegal fishing.
75. One individual (with no obvious yachting connection) thought yachts should also be excluded from the area under an MPA, on the grounds of potential anchor damage to corals, and pollution caused by their waste. Independently, one of the yacht respondents said they could envisage restrictions on anchoring in shallower waters (up to 25m) with fewer restrictions in deeper waters, while another yachting interest queried whether the current anchoring areas were best placed, and suggested that some time restrictions on how long yachts might stay there might be introduced, to avoid any semi-permanent population developing. On waste, yachts noted that they disposed of any waste responsibly.