The International Marine Protected Areas Congress and the Governmental Crisis in Chile - Sphenisco Campaigns for a Marine Protected Area and UNESCO World Heritage Site

Landau, 2 September.

On the 4th of September, the 4th International Marine Protected Areas Congress – IMPAC 4, will begin in Coquimbo and La Serena, in northern Chile. Due to the many damaging influences and pollution, the marine ecosystem is in severe jeopardy:       

One third of the global fish population suffers from overfishing, and 61% is fished to the limits of its capacity

Through carbon dioxide emissions, the pH level of the ocean water is sinking, the oceans threaten to acidify, which would have devastating consequences for coral reefs, fish and other marine species

Further dangers include tanker accidents, industrial waste, plastic and garbage from civilization.

In order for the ecosystem “Ocean” to regenerate and in order to preserve the currently-existing biodiversity, marine protected areas urgently need to be established. 2,000 professionals from all over the globe will be discussing these problems for a week at the International Congress, and will be providing information on the organization and management of marine protected areas. The participants will also visit the marine region “La Higuera-Isla Chañaral”, about 100 kilometers away.

For over 20 years, residents, scientists, and environmental protectionists have been fighting for the preservation of this local hotspot of biodiversity; until now – thank God, with continual success. Just recently, on August 21st, the Bachelet Cabinet rejected a large mining and port project, and spoke out for sustainable development:  development yes, but it must occur in harmony with the environment (see article “Bachelet Cabinet votes for…” on this website). That decision not only resulted in a phenomenal echo throughout the media – nationally and internationally – but also caused a governmental crisis. The Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdés and the Economic Minister Luis Felipe Céspedes, publically criticized the decision and as a result were removed from office by President Bachelet. The topics of environmental protection and sustainable development divide the Chilean community and politics.

Against this backdrop, IMPAC 4 is occurring in La Serena. Sphenisco is participating at the Congress and will be providing information on the threatened destruction of the marine region “La Higuera-Isla Chañaral” (s.a. Handout and Video). Together with our partners, Sphenisco will again urge the politically responsible parties, because of its international significance, to turn this marine region into a strictly protected area, and apply through UNESCO for it to declare this marine paradise a World Heritage Site. Sphenisco requests that the 2,000 professionals to come to our organization’s booth at the Congress and sign the Online Petition from Rainforest Rescue, and thus help save this hotspot of biodiversity.


translated by Erich Greiner