TNC has established an alliance with the Chaihuín Fishermen's Syndicate that will permit us to protect 22.37 hectares of sea in Los Colmillos de Chaihuín. What we have learnt in Valdivia can now be applied in the whole country and also in other parts of the world.
Chile is one of ten principal fishing countries in the world. In fact, bentonic coastal fishing resources in Chile, composed by more than 60 species of mollusks, crustaceans and echinoderms, are one of the most abundant in the world, with an annual export value of more of USD$ 100 million, which makes this sector the country´s a key economic pillar. However, this sector has not been exempt from difficulties and, in the 1990´s, the over-exploitation of certain fishing resources led to a marine life crisis, especially the depletion of some species such as the abalone which was a very important component of Chilean fishing.
As a response to the over-exploitation crisis, Chile has implemented innovative co-management systems called Areas of Management and Development of Betonic Resources (Spanish acronym AMERB). The AMERB guarantees the right of development of bentonic resources to artisanal fishermen through an exclusive access to specific fishing zones. This way, the AMERB promotes the direct responsibility for every fishing area, motivating conservation and eliminating competition.
The AMERB, which considers the division of the marine coastal territory and its allocation to fishermen's syndicates with plans for fishing quota management, focuses especially on the abalone which is one of the most important mollusks from the point of view of economic value for the country.
Chile has become a global leader in the AMERB, with almost 800 AMERB´s that involve 45,000 smalll fishermen. It is the biggest co-management program in the world. The Chilean AMERB model is considered by many an example to follow to transform world coastal fishing in developing countries and even some developed ones, a change from an open access system to a management-based one and focused on fishing rights.
As of 2003, TNC has been working in the south of Chile on the protection and restoration of natural resources in one of its most valuable projects, the Valdivian Coastal Reserve. At present, TNC is working with Universidad Austral, other national universities and the Pacific Center for Fisheries Innovation and Sustainable Harvest (PacFISH), a center for fishing innovation established by TNC and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), to develop some tools for a better management of this important marine region.
The work carried out by TNC and PacFISH in Chile represents the only opportunity to learn about the AMERB model, to improve it and to refine it for its wider application in coastal fishing. With this in mind, we are getting all the necessary experience in co-management of TNC, UCSB and local universities about the way to involve the private sector and to carry out planning exercises and geographic and special modeling processes.
TNC and PacFISH collaborate closely with the AMERB fishermen who occupy 40 kilometers of the Valdivian Coastal Reserve coast , working with local government agencies and Chilean scientists. We are also working on improving the AMERB management and the design of marine protected areas associated with them, to establish non-fishing areas that help to preserve the resources and restore the over-exploited fish and seafood populations together with the AMERB, improving capture and control models and thus restoring resources such as the abalone and the sea urchin.
With this in mind, TNC has established an alliance with the Chaihuín Fishermen's Syndicate that will permit us to protect 22.37 hectares of sea in Los Colmillos de Chaihuín. What we have learnt in Valdivia can now be applied in the whole country and also in other parts of the world.