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The Race to Protect Northern Chilean Oceans

© OCEANA | Eduardo Sorensen

The coastline of La Higuera and Isla Chañaral in Northern Chile is different from any other coastline I have ever experienced.  I grew up in New York, next to the East River, with the Atlantic Ocean right around the corner.  I have travelled along many different coastlines, from Italy´s Amalfi Coast, to British Columbia´s Queen Charlotte Islands.  I am in Chile for the first time, interning at Oceana in Santiago for two months. 

The difference between Chile and other countries is that Chile surprises you at every turn.  The landscape and weather undergo dramatic changes kilometer to kilometer, minute to minute.  We are in Northern Chile in order to further Oceana´s plan to create a Marine Protected Area (MPA).  Alex Muñoz, Executive Director of Oceana Chile, and his team have been working with the local communities to achieve that goal since 2009. 


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Destructive Fishing Gear Kills 400K+ Seabirds per Year

Hundreds of thousands of seabirds like this critically endangered waved albatross chick are snared and drowned by gillnets around the world every year. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Walls of death.” Gillnets have often been described in this haunting way due to their devastating ability to catch all kinds of fish, as well as sea turtles, seals, dolphins, and even whales. Marine creatures of all sizes and species are indiscriminately snared and drowned in these death traps, and a recent report reveals that even birds are being killed by these sea nets. A study in the journal Biological Conservation reported that fishing vessels that deploy gillnets snare and drown at least 400,000 sea birds around the world every year. The actual figure could be even higher.


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