Clipperton Island - History - Recent Developments

Recent Developments

Clipperton Island was abandoned by the end of World War II, after briefly being occupied by the US (1944–45). Since then it has only been visited by sport fishermen, regularly scheduled patrols of the French Navy, and by Mexican tuna and shark fishermen. There have been infrequent scientific and amateur radio expeditions, and in 1978 Jacques-Yves Cousteau visited with his team of divers, plus a survivor from the 1917 evacuation, to film a television special called Clipperton: The Island that Time Forgot.

In 1958, Clipperton was visited by ornithologist Ken Stager of the Los Angeles County Museum. Appalled at the depredations visited by feral pigs upon the island's Brown Booby and Masked Booby colonies (reduced to 500 and 150 birds, respectively), Stager procured a shotgun and proceeded to hunt down and kill all of Clipperton Island's 58 pigs. By 2003, the Booby colonies on Clipperton boasted 25,000 Brown Boobies and 112,000 Masked Boobies, making the atoll the world's second-largest Brown Booby colony, and its largest Masked Booby colony.

In 1962, the independence of Algeria threatened French nuclear testing sites within that nation. The French Ministry of Defence considered Clipperton as a possible replacement location; however, due to the island's hostile climate and remote location, this was eventually ruled out. The French explored reopening the lagoon and developing a harbor for trade and tourism during the 1970s, but this idea, too, was ultimately abandoned. An automatic weather installation was completed on April 7, 1980, with data collected by this station being transmitted directly by satellite to Brittany.

In 1981, the Academy of Sciences for Overseas Territories recommended that the island have its own economic infrastructure, with an airstrip and a fishing port in the lagoon. This would mean opening up the lagoon by creating a passage in the atoll rim. For this purpose, an agreement was signed with the French government, represented by the High Commissioner for French Polynesia, whereby Clipperton became French state property. On October 13, 1986, a meeting took place regarding the establishment of a permanent base for fishing at Clipperton, between the high commissioner of French Polynesia, representing the state, and the survey firm for the development and exploitation of the island (SEDEIC). Taking into account the economic constraints, the distance from viable markets, and the small size of the atoll, nothing apart from preliminary studies was ever undertaken to carry out this project. Finally, all plans for development of Clipperton were abandoned.

Read more about this topic:  Clipperton Island, History

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