Scientists Call for Large Ocean Wilderness Parks

April 15, 2013

In a survey of the Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean, due south of the Maldives, marine scientists found a huge array and high numbers of fish. The area was declared a no-take zone just a few years ago.

The Indian Ocean’s remote Chagos Archipelago teems with fish. In fact, it has six times more fish than any marine reserve in the same sea. Marine scientists have no trouble discerning why: It’s the largest unfished marine reserve in the world.

Also known as the British Indian Ocean Territory, the Chagos Archipelago and its entire 247 square mile area was designated a no-take zone in April 2010.

Now, leading international marine scientists are calling for the protection of more large marine areas in order to preserve the world’s dwindling stocks of fish. Having recently surveyed Chagos, they not only found it to contain many more fish compared with stocks in smaller marine parks, they also found a wider array.

“There was a dramatic difference in types of species that dominate with a far richer variety of predatory and large-bodied fish species with big home ranges in the Chagos,” said study co-author Dr. Tim McClanahan, of WCS.

The findings by Dr. Nick Graham, of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University, and McClanahan are published in the journal Bioscience, in an article entitled “The last call for marine wilderness?”

Learn more from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

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