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Marine Reserves Announced for Rapa Nui and Other Chilean Islands

LADB Article ID: 80438
Category/Department: Chile
Date: 2017-10-13
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

Chile has positioned itself at the vanguard of global ocean conservation by creating a quick succession of marine protected areas (MPAs), including a reserve of more than 700,000-sq-km around the remote Pacific island of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. But while the protection push has earned plenty of applause, its pace and scope are raising doubts about enforcement and feasibility.The Rapa Nui reserve is the largest of several MPAs the administration of President Michelle Bachelet announced in early September during a major conference on marine conservation—the 4th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC4)—in La Serena, in the north-central region of Coquimbo. It is also the only initiative of its kind to be decided in a local referendum. The vote was open specifically to native islanders and took place Sept. 3, following several years of consultations. More than two thirds of the nearly 650 participants voted in favor of the ambitious conservation project, which outlaws industrial fishing, underwater mining, and other extractive industries but allows people to continue fishing the waters around Easter Island using traditional techniques and equipment.

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