On Wednesday, June 8th, the Chilean Government announced the creation of a 210-acre marine reserve in the area of Hanga Roa Otia (Easter Island). The announcement was made by Pablo Galilea, the Undersecretary of Fishing, and, according to him, this reserve is a direct response to the strong demands made by Rapa Nui for protection of its marine wildlife in this area. The creation of the reserve was just one of several projects announced by the Government on Easter Island this week.
The creation of a marine reserve came from the Development Bureau of Easter Island (“la Mesa de Desarrollo de la Isla de Pascua“), which is a body that President Piñera created last year in order to come up with solutions to problems on the Island. The marine reserve, specifically, is designed to protect ecosystems and the endemic biodiversity in the area, but without restricting certain activities in the area (fishing, collection of shells, diving, etc.). Of particular importance, is the management and repopulation of lobsters in the area–an important traditional resources of the Rapa Nui people.
In order to achieve these goals, the Chilean Government has commissioned a study and survey to better understand how to approach the problems and implement solutions. The survey and any resulting actions will, according to the Government, also go through a consultation process with the Rapa Nui people (pursuant to ILO Convention 169).
In addition to the creation of the marine reserve, the Chilean Government also announced workshops on boat repair that will occur on the Island; repair kits for boats on the Island; and the announcement of a life insurance plan for fishermen on the Island.