British Indian Ocean Territory: Natural Resources

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 19th October 2018.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether it is the policy of the Government that there should be no human footprint in the Chagos Islands, other than Diego Garcia.

Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State

There is no Government policy precluding a human footprint in the Chagos Islands.

Sovereignty patrols of the Outer Islands are regularly conducted by British Forces. The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) patrol vessel conducts regular patrolling of the Marine Protected Area (MPA) to combat Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The British Indian Ocean Territory Administration (BIOTA) also grants permits to scientists who wish to conduct research in the Territory (subject to meeting relevant requirements).

A small number of permits for yachts are also issued, with strict conditions, by BIOTA to enable vessels to rest at specific anchorages in order to provide safe passage through the Indian Ocean.

The support package for the Chagossians, announced in November 2016, will also enable Chagossians to maintain a connection with the territory through an increased programme of visits to BIOT. Each visit includes a visit to the outer islands for those who were born on them.

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