Historical Highlights
  • St. Brandon has been recommended as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) by the World Bank (1998 – See MPA on Right). The World Bank’s Management Plan was accepted at Ministry level in its ”Blue Print for the Management of St. Brandon” (2002) which was thereafter approved by the government of Mauritius (2004).
  • St. Brandon has been confirmed as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (”IBA”) by BirdLife International (2001).
  • St. Brandon is a designated Marine Important Bird Area under the Nairobi Convention as a priority site for conservation to become a Marine IBA or a Marine Protected Area (2016 pp 51,52)
  • St. Brandon is a designated Key Biodiversity Area under CEPF (2014).
  • St. Brandon was the first Mauritian Heritage Site to be recommended by the government for application to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (2004).
Conservation History

1960s : Turtle Reserve was established by the resident fishing company (RFC) at Ile du Nord which permitted access only in Summer.

1975 :  US Government Proposal to send scientific expedition to St. Brandon with the Smithsonian Institution and National Geographic, to no effect.

1984 :  United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Proposal to designate Perle and Frégate Islands Protected Nature Reserves, to no effect.

2001 :  Birdlife International identified St. Brandon as being an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (”IBA”) due to the significant populations of seabird species (‘Saint Brandon Birdlife at Risk‘), meeting (‘triggering’) on the islands. The main aim of the IBA Programme of BirdLife International is to secure the long-term conservation of sites that are of significant importance for birds and biodiversity through Protected Areas.

2010 : a survey of seabirds and turtles of St. Brandon was undertaken. “We estimated that 1,084,191 seabirds comprising seven breeding species and excluding non-breeders were present at the archipelago and we counted 279 turtle tracks and nesting pits of green turtles Chelonia mydas. Hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata were also present. Analyses of 30 different islets that make up the atoll showed that the seabird species mostly partitioned their use of islets based on islet size, with four species preferring larger islets and two species preferring smaller islets. Alien species introduced historically are still present and other threats, such as shipwrecks, remain. We propose conservation and other measures that should adequately protect the birds, turtles and coral reef by treating the atoll as a system.” Source

2011 :The Ministry of Environment & Sustainable Development issued the “Mauritius Environment Outlook Report” which declared inter alia on page 228 that, ”There are still major improvements to be done in order to promote development and reduce the degradation of the natural resources (..) St. Brandon. The main actions are to:  (…)  ”Declare St. Brandon as a Marine Protected Area”. (…)

2013 : One of the resident fishing company shareholders (member of BirdLife International since 1995 and a Founder Patron of the Rare Bird Club in 2007) supported and paid for the Republic of Mauritius’ application to become a BirdLife Partner as well as sponsoring the Mauritius delegate, Dr. Vikash Tataya, to the 2013 World Conference. This took St. Brandon and Mauritius onto the modern international bird conservation map for the first time.

2016 :  President’s report of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation declared St. Brandon an ‘official MWF project’ in encouraging the conservation of the atoll at a national and international level.

2016 (April) : resident fishing company (RFC) organised a fact-finding mission by conservation experts. Three international experts (Professor Henk Bauwman (Ecotoxicology, Environmental Pollution, Bird Ecology); Professor Tony Martin (world’s foremost expert on marine mammals) and Dr. Nik Cole (herpetologist; Durrell/MWF Islands Restoration Manager) inspected the islands to raise awareness about the need to protect the islands’ flora and fauna and to investigate, for the longer term, the effects of plastic, heavy metal pollution in the Indian Ocean.

2016 (Sept.) : In a scientific article entitled ‘The protection of the marine birds and sea turtles of St Brandon’s Rock, Indian Ocean, requires the conservation of the entire atoll as an ecosystem‘, a group of international experts (Dr. Steven W. Evans, PhD Zoology (Ornithology); Dr. N Cole, BSc (Hons), PhD: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust; Dr. Henrik Kylin, PhD: Linköping University; Dr. Robert Choong Kwet Yive, PhD : University of Mauritius; Dr. Vikash Tatayah, PhD: Mauritian Wildlife Foundation; J Merven; Professor Hindrik Bouwman, BSc, BSc Hons, MSc, PhD: North-West University) stated, ”Additional government conservation measures should be afforded to Saint Brandon beyond its recognition as a Marine Important Bird Area (…) We also propose a boundary for such a conserved area (…)The total area of the proposed St Brandon’s conserved area is 6 300 km2 that includes approximately 260 km2 of coral reef, lagoon, and shallow water and approximately 5 km2 of land and tidal flats(…). This additional protection of the atoll is warranted on ecological and biodiversity grounds and can be enforced if wardened. The development of a conservation management plan is needed for the entire atoll rather than piecemeal efforts. (…) From experience based on two research expeditions (2010 and 2014), the establishment of a facility from which to base biodiversity research and conservation operations would be highly supportive in reaching conservation targets and may reduce poaching merely by its presence and outreach. Such a facility will also allow obtaining long-term and more defined data on all aspects of the biodiversity of  St. Brandon and can therefore serve a representative station to research and monitor the effects of changes in climate, ocean pH, and pollution on biodiversity. The conservation of St. Brandon would support the protection of turtle nesting grounds and support regional efforts to conserve these threatened species.”

2019 (October) : Mauritian Wildlife Foundation produced the ‘’St Brandon (Carajos Cargados Shoals) Final Stakeholders’ Consultation Report’’ but to date (December 2023) none of the stakeholders, except RFC, the Mauritian fishing company based in St. Brandon, have committed any funds for action on the ground in St. Brandon.

2021 (February) :  St. Brandon is extremely vulnerable to damage by international maritime activities and Green Peace and other climate activists recommended the creation of a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area63 (PSSA) in conjunction with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). ‘’This would help the authorities preserve the biodiversity hotspots in Mauritius’s waters and ensure a safer route for the shipping industry.’’

Apart from the conservation work of the in-situ resident fishing company,  none of these important national and international accolades have led to any meaningful action on-the-ground in St. Brandon or resulted in any concrete inward investments to protect the unique biodiversity of the Cargados Carajos Shoals.

Time is truly of the essence. St. Brandon is at serious imminent risk of major ecological disruption and irreparable biodiversity degradation.

Act Now!