Nearly four hundred miles off Chile’s rugged coastline lies a hidden treasure, rivaling the Galápagos for its sheer beauty and incredible biodiversity. The Juan Fernández Islands, an archipelago of three volcanic islands among a series of seamounts, is home to scores of endemic species found nowhere else in the world, like the Juan Fernández spiny lobster and the critically endangered Firecrown hummingbird.
Local communities have sustainably fished off the land for years, but now, industrial fishing threatens to destroy this unique ecosystem. Local fishermen are already noticing declines in fish stocks close to shore, says Oceana’s vice president for Chile Alex Muñoz.
Oceana is leading the charge to preserve the Juan Fernández Islands before it’s too late. We’re working with the local community to establish a marine reserve surrounding Juan Fernández that extends well beyond the island’s limited Exclusive Economic Zone – essentially banning all destructive fishing practices and creating a no-take area. Oceana also launched several expeditions to the region in 2009 and 2013 to survey the islands’ marine life.
Oceana has already seen sweeping victories: The Chilean Congress banned bottom trawling from all of Chile’s 118 seamounts in a historic 2012 vote after years of campaigning. But, the fight is not over, and Oceana remains active in their work to protect the Juan Fernández and seamounts worldwide.
Take a look at the video below for an incredible glimpse at the Juan Fernández Islands and to learn more about Oceana in Chile’s efforts.