Last week, at the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra announced his intention to create the Nazca Ridge National Reserve by the end of the year. He also committed Peru to protect 30% of its territory by 2030, joining the 30×30 initiative, endorsed by Oceana and a number of our supporters including the Wyss Foundation. Oceana, and our allies, have been campaigning for the creation of this reserve and additional protection for Peruvian waters since 2017 and the announcement to protect Nazca Ridge is a real milestone for ocean conservation in Peru. Now the government needs to follow through on the President’s pledge and to establish this important marine protected area.
While the Peruvian sea covers less than 0.1% of the world’s marine surface, it accounts for more than 10% of all global marine fish catch since 1950. Peru’s waters are nourished by the Humboldt Current, which provides critical feeding, spawning, and nursery habitat for extraordinary marine biodiversity. This includes the anchoveta, a stock shared between Peru and Chile, which is historically the largest single species fishery in the world. Most importantly, Peru’s ocean and its incredible abundance is essential to the livelihoods of the country’s countless fishers and restauranteurs.
Peru, with arguably the most productive marine ecosystem in the world and one of the planet’s most vibrant seafood economies, right now only protects a miniscule portion of its ocean – specifically 0.5%. That amount is well below the 10% goal that the government committed to achieve by 2020 as a signatory of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi Targets of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. And it pales in comparison to neighboring Chile’s 42% of territorial waters protected or Brazil’s 27%. Peru needs to become a leader, in protecting its sea, as it already is in terms of marine biodiversity and fish catch.
Creating the Nazca Ridge National Reserve would protect over 24,000 square miles (63,000 square kilometers) – or over 7% – of Peru’s marine territory. This additional protection would bring the amount of its sea that is protected much closer to the country’s 10% goal. Nazca Ridge is part of a submarine mountain range than spans across the South Pacific Ocean. It’s a globally unique underwater habitat, home to more than 1,000 species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Twelve key commercial species, including giant squid, mahi-mahi, and jack mackerel, depend on the Nazca Ridge, which is also a key part of the migratory route of endangered blue whales and other vulnerable marine species.
I am encouraged by President Vizcarra’s historic announcement and want to celebrate and congratulate him and his colleagues on this important first step. Oceana will continue to campaign, and to work with the Peruvian government, to ensure that this commitment becomes a reality. Please sign our petition here in support of President Vizcarra’s announcement, and join 33,000 other Oceana supporters, in calling for the Peruvian government to create the Nazca Ridge National Reserve before year’s end.