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environmental sanctuaries

Chile strengthens protection for oceans

Penguins in Chilean Patagonia: new reserves

Alejandro Vila_WCSPenguins in Chilean Patagonia: new reservesAlejandro Vila_WCS

The government of Chile announced the creation of new environmental sanctuaries in the Pacific Ocean at an international conference that Chile hosted in October 2015 on protecting the oceans. At the opening of the “Our Oceans” conference, held in the city of Valparaíso, President Michelle Bachelet announced that more than 600,000 square kilometers (km2) surrounding Easter Island will be protected from illegal fishing. Adding this to other marine reserves, Chile now has more than one million km2 of sea in which biodiversity is being preserved. “This is one of the largest protected areas in the world,” Bachelet says. The waters surrounding Easter Island contain species of tuna, shark, marlin and swordfish. They are a source of food for the Rapa Nui communities, which were involved in designing the reserve. The government of Chile has also disclosed plans to set up a network of marine protected areas near Patagonia to defend species such as whales, dolphins and penguins. Conservation of the fiords of Patagonia, large entryways into the sea in the middle of mountain formations, was a component lacking in Chili’s environmental policy according to Chilean Environment Minister Pablo Badenier. The Waitt Foundation of the United States has provided funding for the project for the next three years. The foundation also invests in protecting Argentine Patagonia.