The Pew Charitable Trusts and Bertarelli Foundation applaud today’s action by the Chilean government to create one of the world’s largest fully protected marine parks in the waters surrounding Easter Island, a Chilean territory in the South Pacific Ocean. The park was announced by Chile’s President, Michelle Bachelet.
The new marine park will be the third-largest fully protected area of ocean in the world. Photo credit: The Pew Charitable Trusts
At 631,368 square kilometers (243,630 square miles), the new marine park will be the third-largest fully protected area of ocean in the world. The indigenous community of Easter Island—or Rapa Nui, as the island, its indigenous people and their language are known—proposed the park to safeguard the biodiversity of the island’s waters, which are home to 142 endemic species, 27 of which are threatened or endangered. The park also will help the Rapa Nui continue centuries-old subsistence fishing practices within an area that extends 50 nautical miles from the shoreline.
Proposed Easter Island Marine Park
Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy program, in collaboration with the Bertarelli Foundation, has supported the Rapa Nui’s efforts to protect their ocean waters since 2012. The Rapa Nui will now finalize their proposal through a consultation process with their entire community.
“World famous for its Moai statues, Easter Island will now be known as a global leader in ocean conservation,” said Joshua S. Reichert, who leads environment initiatives at Pew. “This announcement is an important step toward establishing the world’s first generation of great parks in the sea.”
“Creation of the Easter Island park protects one of the last near-pristine ocean wildernesses on Earth,” said Reichert “and one that holds great cultural, religious and economic importance to the Rapa Nui people. It is both a triumph for the Rapa Nui and for the government of President Bachelet.”
Research and progress toward the park was made possible with the support of the Bertarelli Foundation, which has made significant investments in securing other large-scale protected areas. The foundation’s support enabled the largest scientific assessment ever completed of the island’s marine environment, an economic analysis of the impact of a marine park, education and training for the local population, the facilitation of cultural exchanges with other native Polynesian people and assistance with monitoring for illegal fishing activities.