Today, the members of Oceana’s International Board of Directors wrote the Hon. Francisco Sagasti Hochhausler, President of the Republic of Peru, to request the removal of an eleventh-hour provision to allow fishing for Patagonian toothfish in the proposed Nasca Ridge National Reserve. The bottom fishing methods used to catch Patagonian toothfish could damage the very seafloor and seamounts the Reserve is intended to protect. The government of Peru is soliciting public comments on the proposed Nasca Ridge National Reserve until March 22.
“Today, President Sagasti finds himself at a crucial juncture. This is his opportunity to define his legacy,” said Oceana board member César Gaviria, the former President of Colombia and former Secretary General of the Organization of American States. “He can correct this mistake and protect the world-famous abundance of Peru’s ocean, upon which so many Peruvians depend for their livelihoods. Otherwise, the special interests of a tiny fishery will prevail over the interests of the Peruvian people.”
Peru currently protects less than 0.5% of its ocean, far below the 10% goal to which the nation committed as a signatory of the 2020 Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi Targets of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Peru’s amount of ocean territory protected also lags far behind that of neighboring countries (Ecuador protects 13% of its marine surface, and Chile, a world leader, has reached 42%). If properly implemented, the Nasca Ridge National Reserve would ensure the protection of almost 8% of Peru’s oceans.
“Our oceans in Chile and Peru are a source of not only wonder, but also of sustenance and livelihoods,” said Oceana board member Nicholas Davis, who is also Chairman of the Board of EuroAmerica and the founder of Fundación Punta de Lobos. “By investing in protecting our oceans and fish stocks, the communities who depend on them – and all of us – will receive much in return and for generations to come. I urge President Sagasti to invest in Peru’s oceans today by establishing a truly protected Nasca Reserve, not a paper park.”
The Patagonian toothfish fishery would encounter minimal impact being excluded from the reserve. Until 2019, only 6.3% of the toothfish catch from six vessels took place in the reserve. Eliminating fishing activity below 1,000 meters – the strict protection zone that has been defined for the reserve – is especially important to protect the seafloor and seamounts, which are the main conservation target of the Nasca Ridge National Reserve. Bottom longline fishing for Patagonian toothfish on seamounts had previously been deliberately excluded because it is inconsistent with this conservation objective. Furthermore, such activity is inconsistent with globally-accepted International Union for Conservation guidelines for protected areas and would render the Reserve a “paper park” – an area protected only in name.
“We at Oceana stood ready to celebrate the designation of the Nasca Ridge National Reserve as a globally important achievement,” said Oceana board member Gary “Gaz” Alazraki, head of Alazraki Entertainment and Director of Netflix’s ‘Club de Cuervos’. “Now, we find ourselves at risk of witnessing an important setback in the efforts to protect Peru’s ocean abundance.”
The Nasca Ridge submarine mountain range – nicknamed the “underwater Andes” – is home to rare species and commercially important fish stocks and is a transit area for migratory species such as the blue whale and the leatherback turtle. More than 40% of the species found in the depths of the Nasca Ridge are endemic, meaning they are found nowhere else on Earth. Oceana continues to campaign for the establishment of a properly protected Nasca Ridge National Reserve.
To learn more about the Nasca Ridge, visit laotracordillera.pe/.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.oceana.org to learn more.