Easter Island, a territory of Chile, is located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean about 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) west of the Chilean mainland. Though still largely unexplored, Easter Island’s waters are known to contain geological hot spots and areas of rare biodiversity. The region is home to highly migratory fish species and features seamounts ranging from 8.4 million to 13.1 million years old.
Pew, in partnership with the Bertarelli Foundation, has worked with the indigenous Rapa Nui community since 2012 to identify the best ways to protect the island’s waters. On Sept. 9, 2017, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared that her government is designating the Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Rahui Marine Protected Area (MPA). Bachelet announced the decision at the close of the 4th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC4) in Chile. Residents of Easter Island had supported the proposal by a wide margin in a referendum held just before the start of the congress.
The MPA covers more than 740,000 square kilometers (285,700 square miles), a region about the size of Chile’s land area, and is one of the largest in the world. The designation will protect the waters of the Chilean exclusive economic zone that surrounds Easter Island from industrial fishing, mining, and other extractive activities. Rapa Nui artisanal fishing practices—fishing from small open boats using hand lines and rocks as weights—will be grandfathered into the management plans for the MPA and will continue to be allowed.
The Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project will continue to support the Rapa Nui and government of Chile in their efforts to protect the oceans that have sustained Easter Island’s people for centuries.
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Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project Commends Chile’s Declaration of the Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Rahui Marine Protected Area
The Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project applauds the Chilean government’s declaration today of the Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Rahui Marine Protected Area (MPA) to safeguard the waters surrounding the iconic Pacific Ocean island, which is known—as are its inhabitants—as Rapa Nui. Read More
Narrated by Dr. Sylvia Earle, Voices from the Sea (Voces del mar) is a 40-minute documentary that tells the story of the Rapa Nui’s efforts to develop a proposal for one of the world’s largest protected areas of ocean. Read More
A map featuring the world's largest highly protected marine reserves. Read More
Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy
Pew and the Bertarelli Foundation have joined forces in a new partnership with the goal of increasing the number of fully protected parks in the sea from nine to 15 by 2022.
Where We Work
Global Ocean Legacy works with local communities, governments and scientists around the world to protect and conserve some of our most important and unspoiled ocean environments.