Celebrating Easter Island's Ocean Heritage

Celebrating Easter Island's Ocean Heritage

The Pew Charitable Trusts participated in a celebration of Easter Island’s vibrant marine life and rich cultural heritage July 2 at a conference in Santiago, Chile, that focused on the health of the ocean. 

Attendees heard from members of Easter Island’s indigenous Rapa Nui community, former Chilean Minister of Finance Andrés Velasco, and Pew representatives about the importance of protecting the waters surrounding the island.

Stunning underwater photography and traditional Rapa Nui artwork also were on display at the event, which was organized by the Easter Island ocean conservation coalition Mata U’i Moana. It took place in conjunction with the fifth annual Monaco Blue Initiative, a meeting of ocean protection advocates from around the world.

Easter_Island_140601© Max Bello

World-renowned for its moai statues, Easter Island’s waters are also celebrated as one of the world’s most unique ocean areas.

Easter Island, a special territory of Chile, is in the southeastern Pacific Ocean about 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) west of the Chilean mainland.  Though still largely unexplored, its waters are known to contain geological hot spots and areas of rare biodiversity.  Highly migratory fish species, as well as seamounts ranging from 8.4 million to 13.1 million years old, are found there.

Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy project has been working for three years with the Rapa Nui community, Chilean authorities, and renowned scientists to identify the best way to protect these waters from threats such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.