HMS Tamar completes conservation mission in the british indian ocean territory
by Oliver Wilderspin, Communications Manager
HMS Tamar, one of the Royal Navy's River-class Offshore Patrol Vessels, has completed a three week visit to the British Indian Ocean Territory, assisting the territory's authorities in their conservation work. The territory's waters are protected by one of the largest Marine Protected Areas in the world, covering over 250,000 square miles of ocean. Created in 2010, the Chagos Islands Marine Protected Area includes the world's largest coral atoll, the Great Chagos Bank, and is home to over 780 species of fish.
HMS Tamar, a Batch 2 River-class Offshore Patrol Vessel, was commissioned in 2020
One of the most important species in the Chagos Islands is the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle, which breeds on the islands' beaches. However plastic waste which washes up on the beach is a threat to their breeding activity. HMS Tamar's crew were able to help deal with this issue by carrying out a beach clean on Diego Garcia, the largest of the Chagos Islands. The waste collected was seperated by the sailors, and either sent for recycling or disposed of. Plastic waste is a threat to eco-systems across the Overseas Territories, in particular Henderson Island (part of the Pitcairn Islands) which is said to have "the highest density of plastic rubbish anywhere in the world".
HMS Tamar's crew cleaning the beach of Diego Garcia
Tamar's crew also assisted local authorities in sorting through the haul of a recently detained fishing vessel. The crew found various protected species, including sting rays, mobula and sharks. The fishermen were issued with a significant fine.
The problem of illegal fishing has increased in recent years, leading to a decline in species such as sharks. The presence of Royal Navy ships in the region is a strong sign that illegal fishing will not be tolerated by the territory's authorities.
Sailors from HMS Tamar on Diego Garcia
Sailors from HMS Tamar also took part in a football match against the British and American personnel stationed on Diego Garcia, winning 3-0. The Anglo-American team wore shirts bearing the flag of the BIOT, whilst Tamar's shirts bore the ship's crest
The BIOT's pristine environment is vital for regional biodiversity, as is the case with many other British Overseas Territories across the globe. And whether it be in the South Atlantic, Pacific or Indian Oceans, the UK Government is leading efforts to conserve some of the world's most important environments.