Largest Marine Reserve In The Americas Created In Chile

First Posted: Oct 05, 2015 03:18 PM EDT

One of the largest marine reserves in the Americas was recently created in Chile, hundreds of miles off its coast.

The Chilean government announced that a protected area, approximately the size of Italy, has been reserved as a Marine Protected Area (MPA), according to a news release

The area is known as the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park and consists of 8 percent of ocean areas worldwide that have been declared off-limits to fishing, according to conservation analyst, Russell Moffitt of the Marine Conservation Institute in Seattle, Washington.

The marine protected area scopes about 115,000 square miles of ocean around San Ambrosio and San Felix Islands collaboratively known as the Desventuradas. Before the new development, these islands were under minute amounts of solely sword fishing, which amounted to 0.5 percent of Chile's total swordfish catch.

Some amounts of fishing will continue in an unprotected wedge-shaped area, which allows the MPA to take a unique shape. Also, a small lobster fishery certified by Marine Stewardship Council, which is an international seafood organization, will continue its operations within a small sector outside the reserve areas, according to Alex Munoz, vice president of Oceana in Chile.

The new MPA was implemented to protect an ideal ecosystem; this enables scientists to determine how marine factions are supposed to function, according to Alan Friedlander, chief scientist for National Geographic Society's Pristine Seas project.

The Desventuradas' oceanic environment is made up of a combination of tropical and temperate marine species, some which are not found anywhere else in the world, according to marine ecologist Enric Sala.

"For many years, Chile has been one of the most important fishing countries in the world. Unfortunately, that led to depletion of our marine resources. With the creation of this marine park around Desventuradas, we're also becoming a leader in marine conservation," Munoz said, via National Geographic

Many countries are still working on meeting the United Nations' quota of protecting an average of 10 percent of the world's oceans by 2020. 

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