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Page last updated at 09:28 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Blue Reef Campaign for Chagos
Chagos
The Chagos Islands lie roughly 300 miles south of the Maldives

Newquay's Blue Reef is supporting a campaign to protect an important environment many miles from Cornwall.

The Chagos archipelago is a British Overseas Territory in a relatively unpolluted and undisturbed part of the Indian Ocean.

Made up of more than 60 individual tropical islands, the archipelago covers a vast area of coral reefs and open sea spread over 544,000 square kilometres (210,000 square miles) - twice the size of the UK's entire land surface.

Chagos underwater

It contains the world's largest coral atoll and the greatest marine biodiversity in the UK by far.

It also has one of the healthiest reef systems in the cleanest waters in the world, supporting half the total area of good quality reefs in the Indian Ocean.

Blue Reef is supporting the Chagos Environment Network (CEN), a collaboration of nine leading conservation and scientific organizations, including the Marine Conservation Society, Kew, the RSPB and the Zoological Society of London, which is seeking to protect the rich biodiversity of the Chagos Islands and its surrounding waters.

Chagos Facts
There is 698 km of coastline in the archipelago
Formerly administered as part of the British Crown Colony of Mauritius, the British Indian Ocean Territory was established as an overseas territory of the UK in 1965
The Chagos lies about 500 km (300 miles) due south of the Maldives
The largest and most southerly of the islands, Diego Garcia, contains a joint UK-US naval support facility. All of the remaining islands are uninhabited
The Chagos Archipelago is a group of seven atolls comprising of more than 60 individual tropical islands roughly in the centre of the Indian Ocean.

Blue Reef's Zahra d'Aronville said: "We're asking all our visitors to sign an online petition urging the government to declare the Chagos archipelago and waters, out to its 200 mile Environmental Preservation and Protection Zone, a full no-take marine reserve in which extractive activities such as fishing would be prohibited.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to permanently protect one of the planet's last remaining near-pristine marine environments and we're hoping to collect more than 10,000 signatures.

"However time is very much of the essence as the campaign ends in February 12th so we're keen for as many people as possible to register their support," she added.

Visitors to all of the five Blue Reef Aquarium sites will be able to collect postcards which provide more information and will be invited to sign an online petition which will then be forwarded to the government.

For more information on the campaign visit Protect Chagos





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