Featured Image Credit: Eduardo Sorensen / Oceana
By Sarah Sharkey
Chile just helped to protect a huge swath of ocean habitat in its waters. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet officially sign the law that designates a protection zone the size of Texas, California and West Virginia combined!
This is great news for the oceanic animals that live there. The area covers habitats ranging from seabird nesting grounds to migratory tracks of humpback whales and everything in between.
The protection zone is three separate areas and the largest is called the Rapa Nui Marine Protected Area. Commercial fishing and mining are banned, but traditional fishermen are allowed to continue fishing. It also covers the entire economic zone of Easter Island, which contains habitat of 27 threatened or endangered species. Easter Island is an important refuge for biological diversity in a relatively stark ocean environment.
The second largest is centers around the Juan Fernandez Islands, which also serve as centers for an amazing diversity of life. The slopes of these islands are very unique because the habitat transforms from tropical to subtropical and final to temperate marine environments. The mix of habitats leads to an amazing variety of fish and other marine life. All kinds of fishing will be banned here.
Finally, the smallest (still 55,600 square miles) protection zone is focused on the kelp forests surrounding Diego Ramirez island. It is an incredibly productive ecosystem that provides a nursery for young sea life.
All of these areas are amazing places with awesome marine life. Chile did the right thing by protecting them! Hopefully, it will ensure that the outstanding biodiversity found here can stay forever.
Learn more from our source.