Blue whales and dolphins spending summers off the coast of southern Chile will be shielded by a new marine protected area (MPA), the largest ever established in the South American nation. The Chilean government recently announced the approval for the Tic-Toc MPA, a 90,000 hectare reserve along the country’s southern coast. The MPA encompasses one of the most biodiverse areas of the Chilean coast, and its establishment will increase Chile’s protected sea surface by 100 percent.
The announcement of the MPA is the culmination of nearly 15 years of work, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which was involved in the effort to create the reserve.
According to the WWF, MPAs are beneficial to maintaining species biodiversity and providing refuge, protecting marine habitats from destructive fishing practices and other activities, providing safehavens for fish to span and grow to their adult size, and serve as benchmarks for undisrupted natural ecosystems that can be used to measure the effects of human activities on other areas.
The new marine reserve, which has an area equal to that of the Chilean capital city, will be located in the Gulf of Corcovado, between the regions of Los Lagos and Aysen.
“This marine park is a gift and a great inheritance for our children,” said Francisco Viddi, Marine Conservation Program coordinator at WWF Chile. “Tic-Toc will finally be protected; its rich waters, innumerable species and fragile ecosystem will be conserved and the blue whales will continue to have a home here every summer.”
The waters protected by the MPA are frequented by blue whales, who use the territory as a feeding and nursing ground.
“This is the beginning of a path to achieve conservation of at least 10 percent of Chilean seascapes. Still there is much left to do, but we are convinced that the declaration of these new protected areas will be a significant contribution and will be managed seriously and efficiently,” Viddi said.
In addition to the Tic-Toc reserve, the government also approved the designation of the Pitipalena Marine Coastal Protected Area further south in Aysén.