SANTIAGO – Outgoing President Michelle Bachelet, in her last activity before leaving La Moneda Palace, has signed a decree that promulgates the national oceanic policy of Chile.
The new law protecs the waters along its 6,400km (4,000 mile) coastline.
With this initiative, Chile multiplied by 10 the marine surface under official protection, from 4.3% to 42.4% in the so-called “exclusive economic zone”, which means 1,469,000 square kilometers.
President Bachelet, who is ending her term of office this week, said that Chile needed to establish the basis on which it would conserve its marine territory for the future.
En el #PresidenciaAlDía de hoy, la Pdta. @mbachelet firma el decreto que promulga la política oceánica de Chile, una normativa que sentará las bases de conservación y uso sostenible del mar y sus recursos; y preside la ceremonia de firma del proyecto de la Ley de Culto. pic.twitter.com/cpgWDWgghr
— Prensa Presidencia (@presidencia_cl) March 10, 2018
“Who we are and who we can be, is inevitably tied up with our 6,400-kilometre coast. This is why it is so important to understand that the sea is vital for our national development,” President Bachelet said.
One of the new reserves covers the area around the Diego Ramírez Islands, home to sea lions, kelp forests and whales. Another covers the island around the Juan Fernández Islands.
In September last year, Chile opened a huge marine park around Easter Island, which is home to species only found there.
The reserve is about the size of Chile itself and will be co-administered with the indigenous population, who will continue to be allowed to fish there.
During her administration, Bachelet also signed a deal to create the largest network of natural parks in South America, in Patagonia, after a large private land donation.