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Recreational Fishing

Personnel on the US Military Base on Diego Garcia are permitted to fish in the lagoon and territorial waters (out to 3 nautical miles) surrounding the island. However, Section 7(10) of the Fisheries (Conservation and Management) Ordinance 2007 requires that: "the fishing is, or is to be, for a reasonable amount for personal consumption within 3 days by the person fishing".  This requirement came into force on 1 January 2008.

The local Morale and Welfare section, which runs the recreational fishing were, after this date still advertising "Deep Sea Fishing Charters" with photographs showing very sizeable catches of tuna and reef fish.

Catch data for the recreational boat fishery after 1 January 2008, show the landing of yellowfin tuna up to 36 kg in weight with a mean fish size of ~8.7 kg and landings from the Ocean Master fishing boats averaging 7.9 kg for each fisherman. In addition, numerous photographs of catches landed during 2008, 2009 and 2010 demonstrate that this rule is being flouted or ignored.

As this picture from 9 June 2010 shows, this 27 kg tuna should only have been consumed by the US serviceman who caught it. This would have involved eating nearly 9 kg of tuna a day for 3 consecutive days since the regulations also prohibit the catch being frozen. Even the Maldivian nation to the north, which subsists almost exclusively off tuna for its protein, only consumes about 0.5 kg tuna per day.

BIOT Fishing Licence

Each year the BIOT Commissioner's Representative issues a fishing licence to the US Morale, Welfare and Recreation Organisation (US MWR). An example is for 2011-2012 (BIOT Public Notice Number 02-11.PDF). This license requires that all fishing is in accordance with the BIOT Fisheries (Conservation and Management) Ordinance 2007 (2007.5 The Fisheries (Conservation and Management) Ordinance.doc). In addition, the license requires:
  1. Reporting of Catch and Effort data from boats.
  2. The release of billfish, sail fish, sharks and Napoleon Wrasse.
  3. Only fishing by hook and line (including rod and line, hand line and trolling).
  4. Specified fishing areas, and the ability to designate 'closed areas'.

US NAVSUPPFAC Diego Garcia Instructions

The US Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia (NAVSUPPFAC) also issues a 'Diego Garcia Local Coordinator Instruction 1710.17D' (DGLOCALCOORDINST 1710.17D N9 dated 13 Dec 2011.PDF) published in 2011.

This Instruction lays out safety considerations, designated fishing areas and other recreational rules. 

Personnel eligible to use Navy recreation facilities, equipment and services (e.g., fishing boats, LCM, etc) are:
  1. Active duty military personnel assigned to Diego Garcia
  2. Active duty personnel in transit
  3. Department of Defense and British civilian employees
  4. Contractor personnel
  5. Others as designtaed by the US Commanding Officer.

Fishing and recreation areas

( for a more detailed map of the fishing areas, with popular fishing sites: Fishing areas detailed Diego Garcia.jpg)

Restrictions on fishing around Diego Garcia were first introduced on 24 Jan 1994 by Commanding Officer's Temporary Memorandum No 1/94 (this document is no longer available) and remain in force today.

Fishing from boats is allowed anywhere in the lagoon areas marked A, B and C on the map, and anywhere on the ocean side of the atoll.

Shore fishing is allowed on the ocean side but is essentially restricted to the western arm of the atoll. In the lagoon it is allowed everywhere except south of what is called the Donkey Gate to the southern end of the lagoon (Turtle Cove). 

R P Dunne,
Feb 18, 2012, 5:11 AM
R P Dunne,
May 12, 2012, 7:05 AM
R P Dunne,
Feb 18, 2012, 8:55 AM