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.
“At a time 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,” said Vice President of Oceana in Chile Liesbeth van der Meer.
At the Our Ocean conference, 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 (115,844 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 was an expedition conducted by Oceana and National Geographic in February 2013. A team of renowned national and international scientists conducted the first-ever exploration of the region and used cutting-edge technology to document one of the most pristine and wild places in South America.
Scientists found a unique ecosystem with no signs of human impact and an outstanding 90% level of endemic species, which are species only found in that particular region. Additionally, there is an abundance of algae forests, fragile deep-sea corals and fish populations including tuna, yellow tail amberjacks and deep water sharks. An indicator of the exceptional health of these ecosystems are large-sized lobsters, with some individuals extending more than one meter (three feet) and weighing up to eight kilograms (17 pounds).
After the expedition, a scientific report about the biodiversity in the Desventuradas was prepared in addition to 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, which 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 the region will be Sernapesca and the Chilean Navy.
“The Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park is a great step forward to achieve Chile’s commitment at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. It is extremely important to protect ecologically important 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,” concluded van der Meer.
The Chilean government on Monday announced that it has created the largest marine reserve in the Americas by protecting an area hundreds of miles off its coast roughly the size of Italy.
The new area, called the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park, constitutes about eight percent of the ocean areas worldwide that have been declared off-limits to fishing and governed by no-take protections, says Russell Moffitt, a conservation analyst with the Marine Conservation Institute in Seattle, Washington. (Read about the world's largest marine reserve in the Pacific Ocean.)
The Pac-Man-shaped marine protected area (MPA) encompasses roughly 115,000 square miles (297,000 square kilometers) of ocean around San Ambrosio and San Felix islands. Together, they're known as the Desventuradas (or Unfortunate in Spanish) Islands, which are part of the underwater Nazca Ridge, which runs southwest from Peru to Easter Island.
These islands had been subject to a modest amount of fishing, mainly for swordfish, before the creation of the new park, says Alan Friedlander, chief scientist for National Geographic Society’s Pristine Seas project. The project partnered with Oceana to promote designation of the new MPA. (Learn about what makes a successful MPA.)