By Serge Dedina, Executive Director
WILDCOAST has the opportunity to participate in the 4th Annual International Marine Protected Area Congress in La Serena, Chile. Given, Chile’s recent globally important record of creating vast marine reserves including new ones just off of Rapa Nui and Southern Patagonia, there wasn’t a more appropriate location.
There were participants from all over the world, with a great perspective all the ingredients that go into creating marine reserves.
I was able to meet the Chilean Foreign Minister and Environmental Minister to thank them for their strong record. Plus our partners at NOAA, California’s Ocean Protection Council and Mexico’s CONANP and Cubas SNAP were here too for us to network and discuss our work with.
We were also able to network with the National Geographic Pristine Seas team as well as the Chilean Navy during the premiere of a gorgeous new film on Chile’s southern Patagonia region (areas that were recently protected).
Our WILDCOAST staff papers were well received, with Cory Pukini and Zach Plopper presenting on CA MPAs; Monica Franco presenting on Magdalena Bay and our mangrove conservation work; Gabriela Ange presenting on our marine conservation work in Oaxaca, and Eduardo Najera giving two papers on our partnerships for conservation in Mexico and Cuba.
One highlight of the conference was attending a paper by a Nature Conservancy staffer from New York and have her present our CA MPA project as a national (U.S.) model for MPA co-management.
Finally, we ended the week visiting the Humboldt Penguin Reserve two hours north of here at the edge of the Atacama desert. It was an amazing WILDCOAST place—with a vast desert landscape, filled with a rare desert wildflower super bloom, herds of guanacos (like alpacas), and island reserves filled with penguins, seabirds, sea lions and tiny South American sea otters. It was a good opportunity to talk with the very proud park rangers and observe how well they had managed visitation to the islands. And for all our team to be inspired by a great example of a successful ecosystem and wildlife conservation!
All in all, it has been a productive week and highlighted why it is so critical to continue enhancing the conservation of our existing MPAs and to continue to expand areas of the coast and ocean that are preserved for future generations and marine wildlife.