FCO: Establishing a MPA in the British Indian Ocean Territory
JNCC Consultation 1009
Submission by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Enclosed is both a covering letter and the main body of text which form the response from JNCC in reply to a consultation from FCO on establishing a MPA in the British Indian Ocean Territory. Submitted on 11th February 2010.

Summary of key points

JNCC is the statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature conservation and is responsible for the identification of Marine Protected Sites in UK offshore waters. The UK Government has recently committed to a strategy for conserving biodiversity in the UK’s Overseas Territories. JNCC took a lead on drafting this strategy and is supporting government in its delivery of the strategy.
The case for protection and effective management of biodiversity through a marine protected area in the BIOT is clear and unequivocal. The marine biodiversity of the archipelago is globally significant and is relatively unspoilt by human activity. The BIOT proposal is an opportunity for the UK government to establish a globally significant marine protected area, demonstrate its commitment to global biodiversity conservation and make a major contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity.
Whilst JNCC believes that a BIOT MPA will be a valuable addition to nature conservation of the BIOT itself and the Indian Ocean generally, we do not believe that any of the three options presented in the consultation would provide effective management of the biodiversity of this territory. The options presented focus primarily on fisheries management and fail to address the full range of biodiversity management issues within the BIOT area. We believe firmly that an MPA established without proper consideration for necessary biodiversity management in broad would be worse than no MPA at all.  JNCC wishes to draw attention to, and strongly supports, the more comprehensive view stated in the Chagos Islands Management Plan which advocates a ‘comprehensive approach to ensure the long-term protection and sustainable use of this region’.
We are also concerned that all of the consultation options are based on a ‘no-take’ policy rather than a flexible management approach and as such are not consistent with UK marine conservation practice nor with global best practice for establishing and managing marine protected areas.
JNCC therefore proposes a fourth option for developing an MPA within BIOT. This approach to a BIOT MPA would follow international best practice for coral reef systems and adopt a zoning approach as the best way to manage a multiple use marine area. The identification of zones in the MPA should be based on the current best available science.
Please cite as: JNCC Consultation 1009, (2010), FCO: Establishing a MPA in the British Indian Ocean Territory, Submission by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee