For the second time in less than a year, Oceana has helped to defeat a coal-fired power plant on the coast of northern Chile. The CAP company announced last week that it was withdrawing its plans to construct the Cruz Grande thermoelectric power plant.
Cruz Grande was slated to be a 300-megawatt thermoelectric power plant in the region of La Higuera in Northern Chile, a few miles from the Choros-Damas and Chañaral island marine reserves, and near the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, which is home to the world’s largest population of Humboldt penguins. The region also hosts communities of bottlenose dolphins, marine otters and many marine birds and mammals, including blue whales.
These creatures and habitats were at risk from the plant’s emissions, which would have arrived quickly to the reserves. The plant would have used the area’s seawater to cool the plant, discharging it back into the ocean at higher temperatures. Oil spills from ships carrying coal to the plants would seep there in a few hours, and the local currents would retain the pollution within the area. Plus, mercury emissions from the plants would contaminate fish and mollusks like the Chilean abalone, damaging a crucial local industry.
Excellent news for sharks in Chile: Last week the Fisheries Committee of the Chilean Senate voted unanimously to advance legislation that would ban shark finning. Oceana helped promote the bill, which now heads to the Senate for a vote.
Of the 30 species of sharks caught in Chilean fisheries, at least 15 are subject to finning, and blue sharks and mako sharks are the most affected species.
Oceana filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Chilean National Customs Service, which revealed that between 2006 and 2009, 71 tons of dry shark fins were exported and corresponded to eight different species.
In 2006, the Chilean Government pledged to take conservation measures for sharks through a National Action Plan for Shark Conservation which, among other goals, aims to eliminate finning.
If the bill is approved, shark finning will be banned and sharks will have to be landed with all their fins naturally and completely attached to their bodies. Also, the presence of loose fins on-board, or the transportation or transfer of cut shark fins between vessels, will be totally prohibited.
We’ll keep you posted as the bill moves through the Chilean Congress. The momentum to end shark finning around the world appears to be growing, which is great news for sharks and the oceans.
Last year, the support of our members helped us win major victories all over the world. We helped score a ban on trawling in Belize's waters, blocked a coal burning power plant in Chile, and helped win the passage of the Shark Conservation Act in the US. But we still have work to do and we need your help!
Donate $35 by February 28 and you'll get our reusable water bottle, which helps cut down on single use plastic pollution. Donate $100 or more and you'll also get one year of our quarterly printed magazine, full of info about our work all over the world, interviews with our celebrity supporters, tips on sustainable seafood, and more!
2010 was a year full of successes for us, thanks to the support of all our members. Join us in 2011 and help make it an even bigger year for ocean conservation.
On Sunday Oceana and the National Geographic Society, in an unprecedented collaboration with the Chilean Navy, launched a scientific expedition to the waters that surround Chile’s Sala y Gómez Island and Easter Island.
The expedition comes after a preliminary trip by Oceana and National Geographic last March. The results of that initial journey, as you may recall, led the Chilean government to create a no-take marine reserve, Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park, around Sala y Gómez. At 150,000 square kilometers, the park increases Chile’s protected marine areas from 0.03% to 4.4%.
The scientific results of this expedition will be crucial in monitoring the new marine park, and the scientists will assess the health of the waters surrounding Easter Island to determine the need for new conservation measures. Easter Island’s EEZ includes currently unprotect underwater mountains.
The winter issue of the Oceana magazine is now online for your reading pleasure!
* Visit lovely Punta de Choros, Chile, where we recently achieved a dramatic victory in stopping the construction of a coal-fired power plant.
* Sail into the Gulf of Mexico with the Oceana Latitude expedition.
* Explore Chile’s Sala y Gomez Island, whose waters were recently declared a no-take zone after our preliminary expedition there.
* Dive in with actress January Jones in her second trip with Oceana to swim with sharks. This time? The majestic whale shark.
Editor Note: This is the last update from Oceana online editor Emily Fisher in Patagonia. She returns to Santiago today. For more photos, visit our Flickr page.
On my last day in Patagonia, I joined a group of about 25 travelers, including Italians, Argentinians, Spaniards, Mexicans and one Brit, on a boat cruise into one of Chile's most picturesque waterways.
The boat took us into the Seno Ultima Esperanza (“Last Hope Sound”), which was so-named because its European discoverers were nearly dead when they finally found it, searching for the western entrance to the Magellan Strait.
But now Ultima Esperanza, which happens to also be the name of this region of Patagonia, has taken on a new significance, as the salmon farming industry is also looking to these clean waters to salvage their business. The industry has submitted requests for hundreds of new salmon farms in the waters of Ultima Esperanza, and as I saw today, these are waters that are rich with wildlife and peeping tourists.
Editor's Note: Oceana online editor Emily Fisher is reporting from Chilean Patagonia this week, a beautiful place under threat from polluting salmon aquaculture. She'll be sending updates throughout the week. See more photos on our Flickr page.
I’ve known about the negative impacts of salmon farming in Chile for years, but this morning I finally got a glimpse of the source.
A Puerto Natales local named Fernando, with extensive knowledge of the area’s waters, was kind enough to take me out in his boat. The morning was overcast and chilly, but according to Fernando, it was a great day to go out on the water due to the calm winds, which he said was the biggest problem for excursion operators like him this time of year.
Donning ridiculous orange jumpsuits to protect us from the elements, we hopped in his boat. Within three minutes – no exaggeration – he quieted the motor, pointing to a pod of southern dolphins. There were at least eight dolphins zooming around our boat, taunting me to capture them with my inadequate camera. When they finally got sick of us, we motored over, a few hundred meters away, to see a non-functioning salmon farm. Its orange buoys bobbed serenely as we sped off, spotting even more dolphins.
Editor's Note: Oceana's online editor, Emily Fisher, is currently reporting from the wilds of Chilean Patagonia, a beautiful and austere place at risk from salmon aquaculture. She'll be sending reports throughout the week as her internet connection allows!
Patagonia: the very word evokes wilderness, jagged snow-capped peaks and turquoise glaciers. It is a mecca for adventure-seekers the world around.
But there’s a new foreigner on the way, one that speaks neither Spanish, nor English, French, or German, and is indifferent to its picturesque surroundings: Atlantic salmon.
I’ve just arrived in Chilean Patagonia, where I’m hoping to find out more about the pending reincarnation of the Chilean salmon aquaculture industry. After it was devastated by a bout of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) in 2007, most of the country’s farms shut down in the country’s Lakes region (Los Lagos), leaving behind a wake of unemployment and pollution.
Now the industry is poised to start over, this time in the turquoise waters of Patagonia, threatening marine ecosystems and wildlife, artisanal fishing and tourism.
Step right up to the Carnival of the Blue #42, where you may or may or may not discover the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Come one, come all!
This month’s Carnival of the Blue is brought to you from the ever-so-coastal country of Chile, where I am currently working out of our Santiago office helping with their website redesign. It’s also a fitting theme because this month was a superb one for Chile’s oceans.
On the heels of our recent victory to save Chile’s Punta de Choros from a coal-fired power plant, this month, Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera announced the creation of Sala y Gómez Marine Park, a no-take marine reserve of 150,000 square kilometers around Sala y Gómez island, and the Chilean government announced a drastic reduction in the fishing quota for jack mackerel and other fisheries, starting in 2011. (Oh yeah, and don’t forget those 33 miners...)
Now let’s have a look at what else happened this month around the world wide wet web of ours:
Our Chilean colleagues are really on a roll lately. Adding to their recent victories in Sala y Gomez and Punta de Choros, last week the Chilean government announced a drastic reduction in the fishing quota for jack mackerel and other fisheries, starting in 2011.
The triumph against overfishing comes after Oceana sent the Minister of Economy a report analyzing the annual quota set for jack mackerel during the past 10 years. The study, put together with data that Oceana obtained through Chile’s Freedom of Information Act, shows that between 2003 and 2010 the National Fisheries Council set the annual quota for jack mackerel at higher catch limits than was recommended by the Institute for Fisheries Development. In fact, in 2009 the quota was 87 percent higher than what was recommended by the agency.
As a result, the Minister of Economy went to a session of the National Fisheries Council to express his frustration, and in an unprecedented event, he asked them to set smaller quotas for next year.
Another hard-earned victory for Oceana Chile and the oceans!