The Chagos Archipelago contains the world’s largest coral atoll and the greatest marine biodiversity by far under UK jurisdiction. It also has one of the healthiest reef systems in the cleanest waters in the world.
The reserve helps to maintain the pure and unpolluted waters and provides a safe refuge for its rich marine life, including many threatened species, such as turtles and sharks, and globally important populations of seabirds and also provides a temporary refuge for migratory species, such as tuna, from exploitation.
The archipelago is one of the few marine locations in the world where there are almost no ongoing, direct human impacts over almost all of its area. The marine reserve serves as a reference site for global scientific research to aid in our understanding of such things as climate change, tropical marine ecosystems and the impacts of commercial fisheries.
The creation of the Chagos Marine Reserve represents an important contribution by the UK to at least seven international environmental conventions. It also contributes to the UK’s global commitments, such as slowing the decline of biodiversity by 2010, establishing marine protection networks by 2012, and restoring depleted fish stocks to sustainable levels by 2015.