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. The Rapa Nui voted to support safeguarding these waters in a September 2017 referendum. President Michelle Bachelet signed the decree creating the Rapa Nui Marine Protected Area (MPA) on Feb. 27, 2018.
The MPA covers 720,000 square kilometers (277,994 square miles), a region about the size of Chile’s land area, and includes the previously established Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park. The designation protects 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 protected under the management plan.
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.
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.
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.