by Marcela Torres
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The Pacific Ocean’s great Humboldt Current running up the coasts of Chile and Peru faces unprecedented threats, from overfishing and harmful fishing practices to pollution, oil exploitation, infrastructure development and warming seas. The mounting threats endanger not only populations of humpback whales and Humboldt penguins, but also enormous schools of anchovies upon which the world depends for 15 percent of the annual global fish catch.
The Nature Conservancy is working to protect the Humboldt Current as well as the livelihoods of the people who depend upon it. How? By taking actions that will help support the long-term needs of both people and nature.
Together with local partners, we:
- Provide information, tools and know-how to enable the creation of new marine protected areas, and the strengthening of existing ones; and
- Promote sustainable fishing measures to maintain stable fish populations, and help monitor how those populations are doing.
Creation of Marine Protected Areas
On December 30, 2009, the Peruvian Government created the Guano Islands and Capes National Reserve, encompassing 22 islands and 11 capes and spanning 348,000 acres along the coast of Peru. The Conservancy has actively promoted the creation of this marine reserve since 2001 and spent the past two years directly providing technical and institutional support to Peru’s national protected area authorities.
Moving forward, the Conservancy will collaborate with the Peruvian government protected area by working on marine zoning, tourism development, management planning and implementation, and sustainable use of fishing resources.
In Peru, creating a reserve or reserved zone is a significant step towards creating a new national protected area. The Peruvian government’s recent declaration of the San Fernando Reserved Zone covering over 380,000 acres indicates the site will soon become Peru’s fourth marine protected area. The Conservancy is participating in a multi-stakeholder commission working towards the ultimate design and declaration of this protected area.
The Conservancy has also done studies to analyze the sustainability of tourism in two other marine parks in Peru, namely, Paracas National Reserve and the Palomino Islands. The studies also identified best practices and analyzed how tourism can contribute to the long-term financial stability of marine protected areas.
The Humboldt Current supplies more than 15 percent of the world’s annual fish catch. In Peru, industrial fishing relies largely on a single species: the anchovy. Fishmeal and fish oil are the main products obtained from it, and they are used by humans to feed poultry, cattle, pigs, fish and even pets.
The Conservancy is partnering with the Sustainable Fisheries Group (SFG) and the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) to address sustainable fisheries and marine conservation issues in Peru. This partnership involves collaboration with the Marine Research Institute of Peru (IMARPE) to predict how fish stocks will behave given certain environmental changes.