Santiago, Chile.- This Wednesday the Chilean government officially ordered the creation of the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park, which protects San Félix and San Ambrosio islands –better known as Desventuradas. With is action, Chile has the largest marine park in the Americas and has tripled its protected oceanic areas.
“In times when oceans are hit by the overexploitation of species, pollution and phenomena such as climate change, the protection of these islands means a great step forward for oceans in Chile and the rest of the world”, praised Liesbeth van der Meer, executive director of Oceana Chile.
Under the International Conference Our Ocean, held in Valparaíso in October 2015, President Michelle Bachelet announced the establishment of the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park. This new fully protected zone has a surface of 300,035 square kilometers (186,433 square miles) and is designed as a no-take area where fishing and other extractive activities will be banned.
With the establishment of the Nazca-Desventuradas Park, Chile will not only have the largest marine park in the Americas, but it will also protect 12% of its marine surface area, accounting for a 4.4% increase.
Behind the proposal to create this marine park is an expedition conducted by National Geographic and Oceana in February 2013, led by a team of renowned national and international scientists who explored for the first time and with leading-edge technology one of the most pristine and wild places in South America.
Scientists found a unique ecosystem with no signs of human impact and with an outstanding 90% level of endemic species –i.e. that are only found there. Additionally, there is an abundance of algae forests and fish populations, like large tuna fish, yellow tail amberjacks, and deep water sharks, besides fragile deep-sea corals. An indicator of the exceptional health of these ecosystems are large-sized lobsters, with some individuals extending over more than one meter (3 feet) and weighing up to 8 kilograms (17 pounds).
After the expedition, a scientific report about the biodiversity in the Desventuradas was prepared, jointly with a proposal for the establishment of a large marine park surrounding the islands. This initiative was supported by the community in the Juan Fernández Archipelago.
After today’s publication of the decree, the next step is to prepare a management plan for this protected area, an action that will be accomplished by the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (Sernapesca), the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Subpesca) and the Ministries of the Environment and National Defense. The institutions in charge of monitoring will be Sernapesca and the Chilean Navy.
“The Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park is a great step forward to achieve Chile’s commitment under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. It is extremely important to protect ecologically relevant zones in Chile and for other countries to follow suit by establishing more protected areas that can promote the conservation and recovery of oceans and their resources,” finalized van der Meer.