At 660 kilometers from Chile’s mainland, the fishermen of Juan Fernández have reason to be proud: their most famous product, the lobster, is not only recognized for its quality worldwide, but also for the way the fishermen have sustainably managed this resource for over 100 years. This archipelago’s marine environment is unique. Its high endemism of fish, corals and other species coexist in the midst of an exceptional geography, where numerous seamounts provide the perfect conditions for the development of amazing ecosystems.

Aware of the richness of their surroundings, the archipelago’s residents felt the need to search for a means of protection that would allow them to preserve this ecosystem and protect it from the threat of bottom trawling. This is how Oceana began to support the community by collecting scientific information in order to initially stop bottom trawling in seamounts. This came to an end in 2013, when Chile became the first country in the world to protect each of the seamounts located in national waters from this fishing practice.

With this law enacted, Oceana set out to plan a new exploratory journey to verify the condition of seamounts that had been most affected by industrial fishing. The damage caused was demonstrated with visual documentation and a complete diagnosis was made of the state of fauna and flora in the trawled seamounts of Juan Fernández.

The first systematic record of marine fauna found 20 meters deep in Robinson Crusoe and Santa Clara Islands was made in 2014, documenting the biomass of endemic fish such as splended perch and lobsters.

In 2015, expeditions focused on trawled seamounts located on the Eastern side of the archipelago, in order to recognize the damage that was caused. Lifeless ocean floor images confirmed the disappearance of more developed coral banks commonly found in these mounts. However, corals measuring just a few centimeters were and the same level of diversity as in other islands, which was an encouraging piece of information for scientists on the expedition.

The information gathered from all these journeys resulted in a number of technical reports that drove the Ministry of Environment to officialize the creation of a Multiple Purpose Marine Coastal Protected Area (AMCP-MU in Spanish), that was later extended and surrounded by a Marine Park measuring 262,000 square kilometers.

Today, fishermen of Juan Fernández continue their sustainable fishing labor in the protected area without fearing the threat of industrial fishing. Furthermore, some species that had not been sighted in a while, such as the cod, have been recovered and in addition, one of the largest endemic marine ecosystems of the world is kept healthy.





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Associated documents

Juan Fernandez expedition report 2017 (in Spanish)