Chile declares huge Easter Island marine sanctuary

October 7, 2015 | Environment
Easter Island: home to 887 stone statues | Photo: David Berkowitz/Creative Commons

Chile has announced the creation of one of the world's largest marine parks around Easter Island, during the "Our Ocean" conference, held in Valparaiso.

President Michelle Bachelet confirmed the development of a marine protected area (MPA) in the 720,000 square kilometer exclusive economic zone of the iconic Island of Rapa Nui, widely known around the world as Easter Island.

The decision has been negotiated with the Rapa Nui community, takes into consideration their ancestral fishing, as well as complies with current norms established by Convention No. 169 of the International Labor Organization.

"This wonderful action will protect treasures off the shores of this remote island, as well as the brilliant biodiversity that feeds the local Rapa Nui people, and helps them continue their centuries-old cultural traditions," wrote Richard Branson, CEO at Virgin, and one of the conference speakers.

"By declaring it as a marine park, no extractive or destructive activities will be allowed to occur - although a small area has been allocated for subsistence fishing. Sustainable tourism will be encouraged!"

Easter Island is famous for its "moai," the 887 statues carved by the early Rapa Nui people in the period 1100–1680 CE. Currently, Chile has five marine reserves and two marine parks.