Humboldt Penguin Protected Areas Network Proposal of the Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 2019
Participants Head of Project
Carlos Cuevas - Fundación Melimoyu
Environmental Research Center
Karen Rohn, Isabel Torres, Patricia Arriagada - PROED
Arturo Silva, Gian Paolo Sanino, Rodrigo Alarcón
Rafael Valenzuela, Mario Mikin - Fundación Melimoyu
Geographic Information System Advice
Illustrations, Photographs and Layout
Rafael Edwards, Claudio Bravo, Laura Feldguer, Gráfica Interactiva
Architecture INFINISKY Administration
Fundación Melimoyu all rights reserved. First Edition, June 2019. Printed in Chile by Ograma Impresores.
Jerónimo Cuevas, Magdalena Cuevas - Fundación Melimoyu
Humboldt Penguin Protected Areas Network Proposal of the Fundación Melimoyu 2019
Increase from 16,000 hectares to 396,000 hectares in marine and terrestrial areas for protection of the Humboldt penguin socio-ecosystem through: 1) Expansion of the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve to the Pájaros Islets; 2) Expansion of the Islas Chañaral Marine Reserve and the Islas Choros-Damas Marine Reserve; 3) Creation of the Pájaros Islets Marine Reserve; 4) Creation of the Humboldt Penguin Multi-Use Coastal Marine Protected Area.
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 4
Fundación Melimoyu Fundación Melimoyu is a Chilean non-profit organization established in 1993 by Carlos Cuevas Cueto for the creation of protected areas. In its quarter-century of work in Chilean Patagonia, Fundación Melimoyu has promoted the creation of 1 million hectares of terrestrial and marine protected areas of both a public and private nature, including national parks, national reserves, marine parks, marine reserves, multi-use coastal marine protected areas, nature sanctuaries and private reserves. Its key achievements are the creation of the terrestrial Melimoyu and Corcovado National Parks, the Tictoc Marine Park and the Pitipalena-Añihué Multi-Use Coastal Marine Protected Area. It also advised Tompkins Conservation on the creation of the Pumalín and Patagonia National Parks and the reclassification of the Kawésqar and Cerro Castillo National Reserves as National Parks. In addition, it participated in the creation of the private Tantauco Park and the Añihué Reserve.
Marine fauna. Ilustration Rafael Edwards-Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 6
Contents Prologue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
3. GENERAL MANAGEMENT PLAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
3.1. ZONING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 3.1.1. Zoning criteria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 3.1.2. Zoning proposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 3.1.3. Regulation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
2. ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL BASELINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 2.1. PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 2.1.1. Geography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 2.1.2. Climate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 2.1.3. Oceanography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 2.2. BIOTIC ENVIRONMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 2.2.1. Marine mammals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 2.2.2. Birds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 2.2.3. Intertidal, subtidal and pelagic communities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 2.2.4. Phytoplankton and zooplankton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 2.2.5. Terrestrial flora . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 2.2.6. Terrestrial fauna . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 2.3. CHARACTERIZATION OF LOCALITIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 2.3.1. Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 2.3.2. Characterization of localities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 2.4. USE OF THE TERRITORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 2.4.1. Commercial shipping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 2.4.2. Industrial and semi-industrial fishing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 2.4.4. Tourism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 2.4.5. Energy, mining and port projects with approval and under construction . . 78 2.4.6. Mining and road projects under evaluation and other future projects . . . . . 80 2.4.7. Protected natural areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 2.4.8. Coastal Marine Areas of Indigenous Peoples (ECMPOs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 2.4.9. Underwater archaeological heritage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 2.4.10. Current zoning of the coast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
3.2. PLAN FOR THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF ARTISANAL FISHING . . . . . . . . . 111 3.2.1. Objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 3.2.2 General considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 3.3. MONITORING AND RESEARCH PLAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 3.3.1. Objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 3.3.2. Lines of research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 3.4. ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 3.4.1. Thematic displays . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122 3.4.2. Design of exhibition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126 3.5. RESTORATION PLAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 3.5.1. General considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132 3.5.2. Lines of work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 3.6. SHARED GOVERNANCE PROGRAM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.1. Criteria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.2. Community participation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.3. General program activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
139 141 142 142
REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
Prologue In the past five years, two very important events for the conservation of nature have occurred in Chile: the creation of 140,000,000 hectares of marine protected areas around islands that form part of the country (Easter Island and the Salas y Gómez, Juan Fernández, Nazca, Desventuradas and Diego Ramírez Islands) and a 4,000,000-hectare expansion of the network of terrestrial national parks in Patagonia. The latter was achieved through the reclassification by the National Forest Service (CONAF) of 2.5 million hectares of national reserves as national parks, the allocation of 1 million hectares by the Ministry of State Properties and the donation of nearly 0.5 million hectares by Tompkins Conservation. As a result, Chile protects 44% of its maritime territory, located mainly in its Exclusive Economic Zone, and 20% of its continental area, mostly in Patagonia. However, despite these impressive figures, the country’s international commitments in this field have not yet been met. Aichi Target N° 11 of the International Convention on Biological Diversity, which Chile has ratified, states that: "By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape.” We are, therefore, pleased to have protected Insular Chile and Patagonia and to be contributing to the international agenda on climate change. However, much remains to be done as regards the national agenda. In two-thirds of the country – central and northern Chile where 97% of the population lives – only 1% of the area is protected. Protected areas have been created in remote and inaccessible parts of the country that are the best preserved, with little or no human population and no significant threats Until now, Chile has not succeeded in making environmental protection compatible with economic development and social equity through a model of sustainable management of the coastline and the 12 nautical miles of territorial waters.
Photograph Rafael Edwards- Fundación Melimoyu 8
The experience of other countries with decades of advantage on marine protection shows that different categories of protected areas assembled and operating together as mosaics are the most efficient, lasting and adaptive tool for conservation. Through this approach, it is possible to zone and organize territories, protect endangered species, reduce conflicts about use, create opportunities for research and education and develop sustainable commercial and recreational activities whilst also seeking to ensure the ongoing availability of resources and environmental services for communities.
Some of the world’s most famous parks, such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia or the Santa Barbara Channel Islands marine reserves in California, have management and administration plans. These plans include different legal types of marine protected areas, with differing levels of protection that range from areas of strict conservation to more flexible ones where the fishing, shipping, port and oil industries and even naval activities are regulated using spatial planning. The ecological importance of the Coquimbo and Atacama Regions, where this proposal is located, is at odds with their low level of protection. There are eight marine protected areas, covering an area of 10,622 hectares, which represent 0.03% of this marine ecoregion: the Isla Grande de Atacama Multiple-Use Marine Protected Area (3,839 ha.), the Chañaral Island Marine Reserve (2,890 ha.) and the Choros-Damas Islands Marine Reserve (3,863 ha.). The other five areas are very small, covering between 1 and 15 hectares. In the terrestrial part of the two regions, there are five national parks, one national reserve and one natural monument, with a total area of 163,718 hectares, equivalent to 1% of the area of both regions. The most recent marine and terrestrial protected areas in the Coquimbo and Atacama Regions were created 13 and 24 years ago, respectively. Later, in 2010 and 2017, the creation of the La Higuera Multi-Use Coastal Marine Protected Area, covering some 340,000 hectares was proposed, but was not approved by the Council of Ministers for Sustainability. This Council has been in operation since 2010 and is chaired by the Minister of the Environment and comprises the Ministers of Agriculture, Finance, Health, Economy, Development and Reconstruction, Energy, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development, Transport and Telecommunications, Mining and Planning. Each minister has a power of veto and decisions must, therefore, be unanimous. This is difficult to achieve, particularly for proposals that seek to harmonize protected areas with use by the fishing, mining or energy industries. The dichotomy "protection versus development" or, in other words, the belief that both activities are incompatible is not confined to industry but is found transversally, even in environmental organizations. This largely explains the small number of protected areas in places with the most significant industrial activity. As is well known, 90% of the life of the oceans occurs in the shallow waters near the coast. This is very evident in Chile where the cold Humboldt Current’s upwelling phenomenon facilitates the transport of nutrients to the surface for phytoplankton, thereby fertilizing the ecosystem. It is obviously in the coastal areas of higher biological productivity where the interests of protection and production overlap. We hope that our proposal will be reviewed and enriched with new contributions. We believe it can be processed successfully because it addresses the questions that arose in
the previous process, related mainly to governance or, in other words, the participation of the region and the private sector in the discussion of a Sustainable Management Plan. There is, however, another more pressing reason for protecting this area. The Humboldt penguin population has declined very rapidly in the last ten years, as shown by the different censuses that have been carried out. Although more research is required, the evidence indicates that this endangered species coexists with rapidly changing climatic conditions that make it much more vulnerable to the risks associated with intense trawling and purse seine fishing which affect its diet and cause its entanglement in nets. Other activities may also be interfering with this species, such as the traffic of 2,000 boats per year, which pass very close to the islands, and the extraction of large volumes of algae. The main conclusion of this report is that the marine reserves of the Chañaral, Choros and Damas Islands and the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve do not suffice to protect the area’s listed species. The critical habitat of the Humboldt penguin and the populations of resident and visiting whales and dolphins, therefore, requires the expansion of existing protected areas and the creation of new ones. In line with this, the proposal is for a network of protected areas. It includes the expansion of the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve to the Pájaros Islets; an expansion of the marine reserves of the Chañaral, Choros and Damas Islands from 1 to 5 nautical miles; the creation of a Pájaros Islets Marine Reserve of 5 nautical miles; and the creation of a multi-use coastal marine protected area as a regulated and monitored buffer zone. With contributions from the private and public sectors and some international environmental organizations, the proposal envisages the design of a General Management Plan comprising five programs: sustainability of artisanal fisheries, environmental education, monitoring and research, ecological restoration and shared governance where the key to success will be the participation of local organizations. Our relationship with the Humboldt penguin is long-standing. In the 1970s, we participated in the creation of the Pájaro Niño Sanctuary in Algarrobo on the coast of central Chile and, in the early 1990s, the creation the Puñihuil Penguin Natural Monument in Chiloé. This study, "Humboldt Penguin Protected Areas Network", is presented in a spirit of collaboration, for its use by the government, local organizations, academia, citizens, environmental organizations and industry.
Carlos Cuevas Cueto President Fundación Melimoyu 9
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The proposed “Humboldt Penguin Protected Areas Network” would be located within the 12 nautical miles of territorial waters off the municipal districts of Freirina, La Higuera and La Serena, on the border between the Atacama and Coquimbo Regions. It would have an area of 396,000 hectares and would cover the coastal island system of the north of the Great Bay of Coquimbo, comprising four islands, two islets, the surrounding sea and the related coastal area. From north to south, the islands are: Chañaral (507.3 ha.), Damas (60.3 ha.), Choros (291.7 ha.), Gaviota (196 ha.); Islets: Pájaros 1 (71.6 ha.) and Pájaros 2 (15.2 ha.), 20 nautical miles south of Choros Island.
Environmental and social baseline Due to a combination of different features of its physical environment, the area is one of outstanding productivity and biodiversity, related to the presence of the phenomenon of coastal upwelling. Because of this, it serves as a resting, feeding and breeding place for species with conservation status such as the Humboldt penguin, the Peruvian diving petrel, the marine otter and cetaceans. It is the coexistence of the species of this great marine biodiversity that gives the sector its unique character. This is, in turn, a result of it being the interface between two large biogeographic provinces: the Peruvian and the Magellan provinces. This gives rise to a complex mosaic, unique in its richness of species. The area that would be protected is the habitat of approximately 70% of the world population of Humboldt penguins and is home to between 352 and 560 marine species. They include cetaceans and a great variety of fish, mollusks and algae of ecological and economic importance. The most diverse groups are formed by 122 species of birds, 27 species of marine mammals (including cetaceans) and 68 species of fish, which occupy 12 habitats of ecological importance. The species of greatest interest are in a fragile condition. This is the case, for example, of the penguin which has its main nesting colonies in this area (Simeone, 2018). Like the area’s coastal pod of bottlenose dolphins, these species are vulnerable to the presence of humans and have very specific feeding and/or breeding requirements. Close interaction between the coastal basins and the sea through the phenomenon of camanchaca, a coastal fog, permits a rich biodiversity of coastal flora and wildlife. This opens up the possibility of a wider conservation area that, as well as the marine 12
protected area, considers the restoration of plant communities. Similarly, it is feasible to restore fauna populations, such as that of the guanaco. This report shows that the creation of the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve in 1990 and the Chañaral Island and Choros-Damas Island Marine Reserves in 2005 has not sufficed to compensate for the growing vulnerability of the ecosystem and, in particular, of the species for whose protection they were created. This is borne out by the significant decrease in the Humboldt penguin population, which Simeone (2018) estimates may have reached around 60%. Precisely for this reason, the proposal includes a management and conservation model that addresses the needs of both the ecosystem and the area’s coastal and inland communities, which have entirely different lifestyles. It also takes into account the historical and current use of the territory. The critical habitats for the feeding and reproduction of the target conservation species lack appropriate protection under the current protected areas, both as regards their area and measures to regulate the activities which threaten these species. In other words, the current protected areas fail to fulfill the purpose for which they were created. The natural vulnerability of this ecosystem and its emblematic species to the environmental changes has been exacerbated by trawler and seine fishing, even within the five miles reserved for artisanal fishing. Among other adverse effects, the fisheries compete for food with the penguins, bottlenose dolphins, Peruvian diving petrels (the smallest of the petrels) and sea otters as well as the different species of whales that visit the area seasonally to feed there. This proposal provides relevant information about fishing in the area and the evolution of the state of the fishing resources, which constitute the diet of the target conservation species. It also draws attention to the proximity of shipping lanes which are used by some 2,000 vessels each year. These pass less than 5 miles from Chañaral Island and Pájaros Islets, including ships leaving and entering the ports of Coquimbo and Huasco, implying a need for regulation. In addition to existing human activities, the proposal analyzes the new port, mining and energy projects and bi-oceanic corridors envisaged in the area. These projects, some of which have already obtained approval while others are in the process of seeking it, represent a challenge on an altogether different scale. It should also be noted that the area’s Zoning Plan (PRI) envisages the installation of three ports in the La Higuera municipal district.
The PRI, including all the modifications approved by the Regional Council (CORE) in 2018, has completed the administrative process of approval by the Office of the General Comptroller of the Republic and only its publication in the Diario Oficial (Official Gazette) is now required before it comes into force.
the coastline (Regional Government), the priority conservation sites (Ministry of the Environment), the Coastal Marine Areas of Indigenous Peoples (ECMPOs), the port, mining and energy projects with approval and seeking approval and existing and projected shipping lanes.
In order to halt the current trend towards deterioration of the ecosystem, recover its full potential, prevent future industrial impacts and positively affect the surrounding areas, it is necessary to expand the area and regulation of the existing protected areas and to create new protected areas.
With this zoning, based on socio-ecological criteria, it is possible to propose new territorial planning for the area in the form of the Humboldt Penguin Protected Areas Network, which would be created as follows:
General management plan
2. Creation of a new Marine Reserve with a radius of 5 nautical miles around Pájaros 1 and 2 Islets;
Experience shows that, in order to be effective, marine protected areas must have funded research, monitoring and environmental education programs and must engage with local organizations and provide training for the economic activities that take place in the area, all of which aspects are addressed in this proposal. There is consensus that this will only be possible through effective collaboration between the public and private sectors.
3. Creation of a Multi-Use Coastal Marine Protected Area (MU-CMPA) covering the 12 miles of territorial waters;
The proposal for the Humboldt Penguin Protected Areas Network has been designed on the basis of a territorial planning tool in the form of a socio-ecological technical zoning plan that takes into account all the data about the stakeholders and their use of natural resources, the protected species and their critical habitat, the ecological network and the bio-oceanographic variables that produce the conditions for the area’s remarkable biodiversity, richness and abundance. This zoning plan provides the basis for the General Management Plan and its five components: 1) a sustainable development plan for artisanal fishing; 2) environmental education; 3) a monitoring and research plan; 4) a restoration plan; and 5) a shared governance program. Zoning. Based on scientific knowledge and expert opinion, a geographic information system was developed as a means of describing and zoning the area, taking into account: a) the physical environment: relief, climate and oceanography; b) the biotic environment: the ecosystem’s primary productivity, the base of the food chain, the critical breeding and feeding habitats of the target conservation species; and c) use of the territory: fishing within the 5 miles reserved for artisanal fishing and within the 12 miles of territorial waters, the existing protected areas (National Reserve and Marine Reserves) and their potential for expansion, the Management Areas for the Exploitation of Benthic Resources (AMERBs) administered by local communities, the zoning of
1. Extension of the Chañaral Island and Choros-Damas Island Marine Reserves to a radius of 5 nautical miles;
4. Extension of the terrestrial Humboldt Penguin National Reserve to Pájaros 1 and 2 Islets. Its main benefits would be: a. Increased protection of the ecosystem and the protected species through the expansion of the area of the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve and the Chañaral Island and Choros-Damas Island Marine Reserves and the creation of a Multi-Use Coastal Marine Protected Area (MU-CMPA) that encompasses these reserves; b. Respect for the current uses associated with the Management Areas for the Exploitation of Benthic Resources (AMERBs), the Coastal Marine Areas of Indigenous Peoples (ECMPOs) and Coastal Zoning; c. Elimination of trawler fishing within the 5 miles reserved for artisanal fishing and its restriction to certain periods of the year between 5 and 12 miles; d. Elimination of authorizations or penetration permits for industrial fishing within the 5 miles reserved for artisanal fishing; e. Establishment of a zone of special use by shipping, away from the critical habitat of birds and cetaceans; f.
Regulation and organization of wildlife tourism;
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 14
g. Channeling of resources for an independent scientific research of excellence with a field of applied research that includes monitoring of the critical feeding and breeding habitats of the protected species and the study of benthic resources and algae; h. Provision of resources for the construction and operation of a Visitors’ Center for local tourism; i.
Provision of resources to restore coastal vegetation and the coastal guanaco population;
Proposal for a shared governance model for the Marine Protected Area.
The proposal for the Humboldt Penguin Protected Areas Network has five main lines of development that permit the necessary adjustment to changes in environmental conditions and would improve the area’s current status through the study, design, publication, dissemination and monitoring of technical tools for its sustainable management. 1. Sustainable Development Plan for Artisanal Fishing. The objective of this plan is to promote the sustainable development of artisanal fishing through the generation, socialization, application and continuous improvement of techniques for the rational management of fisheries and benthic natural resources. This plan includes actions that facilitate the sustained economic development of artisanal fishing, maintaining and, if possible, increasing the populations of the managed species whilst also adding value to the resulting products. The plan considers the construction of a pre-processing plant with cold chain assurance. By delivering their daily catch to the plant, the fishermen would avoid losses and dependence on intermediaries who only buy fresh products in the extraction zones.
3. Environmental Education Program. A proposed Visitors’ and Environmental Education Center would use photographs, illustrations, infographics, panels, installations, videos, brochures and samples of flora and fauna to inform nearby communities and visitors about the HPPAN’s conservation objectives, equipping them to detect and understand environmental problems, involving the whole community and fostering interest in visiting the protected area. 4. Restoration Plan. This plan for recovery of the native vegetation formations of the coastal mountain range would take advantage of the coastal fog, known as camanchaca, to capture water. It would also seek to improve goat management techniques as means of permitting growth of the local population of coastal guanacos and recovering degraded land. In the marine environment, the integration of information and the application of sustainable management techniques are expected to permit recovery of overexploited zones and the detection and/or control of invasive species. 5. Shared Governance Program. Under this program, a public-private committee, representing shared governance of the area, would be responsible for administering the General Management Plan. It would have a Board on which the following are represented: (a) Ministry of the Environment; b) Undersecretariat for Fisheries; (c) Armed Forces (marine territory); (d) Regional Government; (e) Municipal Government; (f ) artisanal fishing sector; g) industrial fishing sector; (h) holders of marine concessions; and (i) representatives of NGOs whose objective is the protection of oceans and marine species.
2. M onitoring and Research Plan. The proposal considers the development of a research plan to complement and deepen knowledge about the behavior of bio‑oceanographic variables in the area and the dynamics of the populations of the threatened species. In parallel, anthropogenic activities in the area will be monitored to detect and report potential contamination events associated with human activity. The research and monitoring plan will promote partnerships through agreements with national institutions of excellence such as research centers and/or related universities as well as national and international government agencies interested in the conservation and management of fishing resources and emblematic species. These partnerships would provide resources for the collection and analysis of data in each line of research which will be channeled from different sources, nationally and internationally. 15
2. ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL BASELINE
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 18
2.1. PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
2.1.1. Geography The relief of Chile is dominated by the Andes Mountains, the world’s longest and second highest mountain range. They are located in front of the Atacama Trench, the country’s second most dominant feature. The short distance between these two features results in the world’s steepest orographic gradient, resulting in a wide range of environments and important effects on the abiotic and biotic environment and human activity. The area proposed for the creation of a Coastal Marine Protected Areas (CMPA) is north of the Great Bay of Coquimbo, a coastal expression in the Coquimbo Region and the southern tip of the Atacama Region. The proximity of the ends of this bay to the trench, combined with a series of geographical and biological conditions, makes the area unique among Chile’s marine-coastal environments. The land and seafloor area relief is complex. The rock basement predominates along the coast, with important sectors of sandy beach. Further inland, the Coastal Mountains connect transversely with the Andean massif, losing definition but reaching heights of up to 800 meters very close to the sea1. This area lacks the intermediate depression characteristic of much of the country. As a consequence, the transversal chains are crossed by creeks whose limited size, combined with the absence of influence of the Andes, determines the contribution to the rainwater that feeds their water courses. The most important is the Los Choros Creek which has a length of approximately 70 km. Between the Los Choros Creek and the Punta Teatinos headland to the south, the Coastal Mountains are very close to the sea and flat areas are limited and small. However, between the Los Choros Creek and Caleta El Sarco, the mountains are around 10 km from the coast and there is a coastal plain with a Paleozoic-era base that has been partially covered by wind, marine, fluvial and alluvial deposits. The particular characteristics of the relief of the land continue under the sea. The sector between Isla Chañaral and Caleta El Sarco has a continental shelf with a steep gradient and this persists without major variations through to the Choros, Damas and Gaviota Islands, which mark the beginning of the Great Bay of Coquimbo. This bay is divided into two large sections - a northern and a southern section - separated by Punta Teatinos.
1 Seyfried et al.,1999. 2 Fuenzalida, 1971. 3 General Water Board (DGA), 2018. http://snia.dga.cl/BNAConsultas/reportes. 20
The northern sector is bounded by the three islands and an underwater mountain chain that extends to the south. This chain interrupts a flatter underwater relief, such as that found near the Los Choros beach, whose orientation transversal to the direction of the waves means that it is subject to an oscillating regime of deposition and erosion. To the south, the Pájaros Islets are, in practice, the only rock outcrops off the coast of Caleta Los Hornos. A remarkable accident in the Great Bay is the canyon of the Elqui River, an underwater extension of the valley of the same name, which advances towards 30°W, contributing sediment to the trench. In the southern sector of the bay, the underwater relief is more irregular, due to the prolongation of each of the peninsulas that separate the Coquimbo, Guanaqueros and Tongoy Bays and of the Punta Lengua de Vaca headland that closes the bay to the south. In short, the area’s marine geography consists of: (1) islands that are up to 20 km from the coast; and (2) bays with different orientations whose arrangement on a continental shelf of varying gradient has a direct impact on the biota because of its effect in displacing sea currents and their resulting capacity to transport nutrients and energy within the system.
2.1.2. Climate The area’s location on the southern edge of the world’s driest desert, the Atacama Desert, provides an indication of its semi-arid nature2. This is a result of the presence of the Pacific Anticyclone, an area of high pressure over the ocean that hampers the arrival of storm systems, along with the barrier formed by the Andes Mountains against precipitation from Atlantic weather systems. Consequently, the area has clear weather, nuanced by the coastal trough that explains the characteristic cloudiness of these coastal environments. Bad weather is associated with the arrival of the systems of fronts typical of southern Chile, which move northwards, bringing rainfall and temporarily displacing the anticyclone to the north or west. Precipitation varies widely since it depends directly on the interaction of oceanic phenomena with the continent, with variations in time scale from seasonal to interdecadal and in terms of space from local to at least synoptic. However, with the data available3, it is possible to estimate that average annual rainfall varies from 38 mm
in Freirina and 48 mm in El Trapiche to around 90 mm in La Serena. However, global warming is being reflected in a change in the frequency, magnitude and intensity of precipitations and periods of drought4. Winds are controlled by the anticyclone and are predominantly S-SW and have an average speed of 6 m/s, with a maximum in spring and a minimum in winter. They have a characteristic cycle during the day: early in the morning, they come from the north and are of low speed (3 m/s) while, in the afternoon, a south wind predominates, reaching speeds of up to 7 m/s in spring and summer, but with a daily average of no more than 4.5 m/s.
There is some condensation of atmospheric moisture when the moving air is forced to ascend the Coastal Mountains. This moisture is usually lost but, under certain conditions of exposure, altitude and proximity to the coast, fog is generated, dampening the ground and the vegetation. This phenomenon is known as camanchaca and its effects are discussed in the chapter on the biotic environment.
4 Boisier et al., 2018. 21
2.1.3. Oceanography The area is directly influenced by the Humboldt Current. This is, in fact, a system of currents and countercurrents that move both longitudinally, transversally and vertically. Deep, cold, nutrient-rich waters move south from the tropics while the surface waters generally move in the opposite direction from southern Chile to the tropics5. This current has remained stable for at least 10,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age. Along with this main system, there is a coastal upwelling subsystem along the entire Chilean coast, known as the Humboldt Current Upwelling Ecosystem, which varies in frequency and intensity6. This upwelling is produced by the interaction of the wind with the coastal relief, with the diverted wind pushing the surface waters out into the ocean and causing cold water to rise from the depths in the form of a corkscrew (Ekman transport).7 In the area of the proposed protected area, the upwelling phenomenon is particularly frequent but of low relative intensity. It has two main focuses: the Punta Lengua de Vaca headland near the Tongoy Bay in the south and off Punta de Choros in the area of the Chañaral, Choros and Damas Islands. The Humboldt Current Upwelling Ecosystem varies in salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, subs and the penetration of light into the water column, as well as the availability of nutrients. The interaction of all these variables, together with the geomorphological characteristics of the seabed and the coast, produces the diverse environments that permit the coexistence of the area’s particularly rich biodiversity. In this way, the deepest waters, which lack the oxygen and light needed for photosynthesis, slowly increase their nutrient load, which is produced by the dissolving of elements from the seabed, the arrival of sediments and nutrients from rivers that fall down the continental slope and the descent of detritus from the surface layers of the water column. The upwelling process takes these waters, which are rich in dissolved compounds such as carbon dioxide, sulfates and nitrates, to where sunlight penetrates, enabling the phytoplankton to photosynthesize and, in this primary biological activity, these compounds are fixed in biomass.
5 Shaffer et al., 1995 6 Thiel et al., 2007. 7 Fonseca and Farías, 1987. 22
In addition, the complexity of the undersea relief of the Coquimbo system of bays, together with the presence of the islands and basins, facilitates the retention of nutrients in the water column. Secondary currents inside the Great Bay of Coquimbo, which form vortices and countercurrents, also assist in this process. These conditions foster the area’s productivity, explaining the abundance and biological diversity that set it apart from other sectors of the coast of northern Chile.
The ocean in Chile is also affected by global oceanographic/climatic phenomena: the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the first of which has a scale of decades while the second is interannual.8 According to Newman et al. (2016), research is leading to a consensus that the PDO is caused by a combination of different physical processes that include both remote atmospheric forcing and local interactions between the atmosphere and the North Pacific Ocean. These operate on different time scales. Given the amplitude of its time scale, the PDO is also recognized as having a modulating effect with respect to the ENSO phenomenon, which has more repercussions on oceanographic conditions. ENSO is a response to the irregular behavior of the trade wind system. These westerly winds drag cold water from Ecuador towards Indonesia, a process during which the water warms. When these winds weaken, the El Niño phenomenon occurs and the surface temperature of the ocean near South America increases, weakening the Pacific Anticyclone. In La Niña, on the other hand, stronger trade winds drag more cold water to Oceania, producing a relative reduction in the surface temperature of the ocean and strengthening the Pacific Anticyclone.
On the other hand, because it increases the intensity of the Anticyclone, La Niña promotes aridity, with an impact that is more noticeable in semi-arid areas of central Chile than in the hyper-arid north. At the same time, it also favors upwelling, increasing the sea’s productivity. Moreover, the interaction of cold ocean waters with the atmosphere produces the coastal fog banks known as camanchaca. These collide with the Coastal Mountains, providing moisture for the vegetation of the coastal strip. This is a recurrent feature of all the area studied and is an aspect of interaction between the ocean and the land which must be taken into account when designing coastal marine protected areas.
In addition, because atmospheric circulation is global, changes in the intensity and humidity of the southern hemisphere winds during ENSO affect circulation and precipitation in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. In Chile, El Niño is often accompanied by an increase in rainfall because the weaker Anticyclone permits the passage of fronts of bad weather. On land, it means higher temperatures, both during the day and night, and intense rains can cause floods and landslides. It is this weakening or strengthening of the Pacific Anticyclone that regulates the climate of northern Chile, giving the phenomenon its transcendental importance in the area studied. The weakening of the Anticyclone also weakens the upwelling process, keeping the surface waters poor in nutrients and reducing the general level of productivity as schools of pelagic fish go deeper or migrate to other areas. Fortunately, however, the different species show some degree of adaptation to these climatic variations.9
8 Newman et al., 2016. 9 Bello et al., 2004.
Sea Otter. Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu 23
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 24
2.2. BIOTIC ENVIRONMENT
The area proposed for the creation of the MU-CMPA has special characteristics, both as regards the marine area and its area of influence on the land near the coast. The environments, types of plant formations and species of terrestrial and marine flora and fauna that are typical of central-northern Chile are represented in the proposed area. This makes it unique in that it represents the biodiversity of a large part of the country as well as having a high level of endemism for certain species of importance, such as being the world’s largest nesting site of the Humboldt penguin. The sector’s unique nature is mainly the result of the particular coexistence of species known as species assemblage. At around 30°S, two large biogeographic provinces form a transition zone in which it is possible to find species typical of the warmer, more northerly Peruvian Province (25°S) and from the Magellan Province (40°S)10. Together, they form a complex mosaic of overlapping habitats that give the area its richness and unique species assemblage.11 As indicated above, this is one of the most important areas of upwelling on the coast of central-northern Chile. The topography of the Coquimbo system of bays favors larval retention and the growth of phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass, enhancing the concentration and abundance of organisms at all trophic levels of the food chain. The islands also provide nesting sites for endemic seabirds such as the Humboldt penguin and the Peruvian diving petrel as well as others with conservation status. Academic research, fishery research programs and other sources indicate that between 398 and 560 marine species live in the proposed protected area, either permanently or as temporary visitors. They correspond to 27 species of mammals, 122 species of birds, 68 species of fish and 187 macro-benthic species (macroalgae and invertebrates). Many of these species, including half of the birds and mammals, face current or potential problems for their survival and are in some conservation category. Three-quarters of the fish in the area belong to species that are important for conservation, particularly forage species such as the anchovy and sardine. There are 18 species of shark that are considered “vulnerable” and one, the combtooth dogfish that is “endangered”, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
2.2.1. Marine mammals Marine mammals have colonized all the world’s seas and their geographical distribution is determined by access to their sources of food. As a result, they have developed different strategies and skills related to their diet. Some filter small crustaceans near the surface of the water while others hunt large squid in the depths or work together to control large shoals of small fish. Others again consume crustaceans near beaches while some prey directly on other marine mammals. Given this diversity of specialized behavior whale watching sites usually focus on just a few species. However, the proposed protected area has some 27 species, many of them coexisting in parallel or seasonally. This reflects the productivity that results from upwelling events combined with the area’s diversity of underwater environments and complex underwater profile. The islands provide protected coasts that are interconnected with the nearby oceanic environments so mammals are able to find their prey without having to venture far out to sea. In other words, some of the species found in the proposed area would, in other latitudes, require several hours or even days of sailing for their observation. Sea lions, otters, whales, dolphins and other cetaceans coexist in the area. Some are present throughout the year and, as tends to occur with the otters and sea lions, have defined hunting territories while some dolphins and porpoises opportunistically patrol the coasts of the mainland and the islands. For migratory species such as large whales and sperm whales, this is a vital place in which to recover after the breeding season12. They arrive in groups, first the males and then the females with their offspring, taking advantage of the shelter provided by the islands to feed for months and prepare for their return to the tropical and temperate waters that are poor in forage. Certain species of dolphins and some beaked whales, which are extremely difficult to observe, often approach the coast, following their prey from shoals of fish or squid of different sizes. Other species hunt sea lions and penguins close to the islands, making this area one of the last places of its type in central-northern Chile. Navigation conditions are better in summer, making observation of whales becomes more accessible for visitors. However, the three groups of marine mammals are present in
10 Camus, 2001. 11 Navarrete et al., 2005. 12 Felix, 2012. Atlas de Cetáceos del Pacífico Oriental 26
the area throughout the year. This positions it as the area of the world with the greatest potential for the development of whale watching where science and tourism can be combined to generate a growing and sustainable industry.
Sea otter (Lontra felina):
However, productivity is useless if it does not translate into the availability of food. In the area, this has decreased in recent years due to several causes. They include damage to the seabed as a result of trawling as well as overfishing of the main forage species. The area is a traditional fishing ground for crustaceans and is intensively trawled, even within the 5-mile area reserved for artisanal fishing, and marine reserves have been stretched to the limit. The impact on marine mammals is inevitable given that they depend on abundant food to sustain their high metabolism.
The sea otter is the only species to their kind inhabit the area. Hunting for its skin and the presence of dogs reduced its habitat mainly to the shores of the islands. Sea otters are found mostly near the coast where their prey is more abundant and spend about 80% of the time on land, resting in burrows or near areas with fishing waste. In this sense, they can live in proximity to humans, providing they are not hunted or attacked by domestic animals15 . In the case of Isla Choros, the estimated density of sea otters varies between 1 and 2.5 individuals per kilometer of coastline. Despite their preference for the shores of the islands, studies have shown that they are capable of venturing further onto Isla Choros in pursuit of Peruvian diving petrels.16
Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus):
In Chile, this cosmopolitan species, which is popular in television programs, tends to live in oceanic waters and approach the coast only occasionally. However, in this area, there is, in addition to the oceanic population, a small coastal population. Studies of the latter’s morphology and molecular analysis indicate that it corresponds to a differentiated form known internationally as “pod-R”.13 The oceanic form is common off the coast of Chile and Peru.
The breeding colonies on Chañaral Island, Choros Island and Pájaros Islets account for a large part of the region’s abundance of sea lions. They include two species, the South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens) and the South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis), with occasional sightings of the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina). Choros Island accounts for 25% of the region’s population of South American sea lions17 while Isla Chañaral has the largest population in the Atacama Region, with four colonies that comprised over 700 individuals according to a 2007 census (40% less individuals than in 1996 and 31% less colonies in the Coquimbo Region). Aerial mapping using a drone (03/2018)18 found that Pájaros Islets had a population of approximately 94 South American fur seals and 894 South American sea lions, despite this representing a fraction of the historical area of occupation.
This small coastal population, comprising some 30 individuals, lived around Chañaral Island until April 1994 when, in a traumatic event, they were hunted by swordfish boats14. In response, they moved to Choros Island, thwarting early efforts to position the Chañaral de Aceituno area as a cetacean watching destination. Other populations with different levels of residence and without the degree of differentiation seen in the “pod-R” dolphins have been recorded in the Juan Fernández archipelago, Laguna Verde and some areas of Patagonia. This is the only coastal ecotype population that still exists in Chile and is a mainstay of local tourism. Faced with growing difficulty in accessing food and an insufficiently regulated tourism activity, the population has expanded its range of distribution between the three islands. It feeds mainly on squid and, depending on their availability, anchovies and sardines, implying that fishing pressure could threaten its ongoing presence in the area. 13 14 15 16 17 18
Sanino and Van Waerebeek, 2008. Sanino, G.P., Personal Communication. Medina-Vogel et al., 2007. Mattern et al., 2002. SUBPESCA, 2015. Plan General de Administración Reserva Marina Islas Choros-Damas. Sanino, G.P., Personal Communication. 27
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 28
Whales and other cetaceans: Large whales visit the area between August and April. The most frequently observed are fin whales, humpback whales and blue whales. They feed principally on krill, fish and small crustaceans. In order to rest, they need to return to the open ocean each day where they drift, exposing them to the risk of collision with large vessels and entanglement in fishing nets. Fossil material from the mainland coast19 and the numerous remains of beached whales on the islands testify to their historical presence in the area.
Burmeister's porpoise, an almost ignored small species, is usually found on the coast, a few meters from the beach where it feeds on small fish and, thanks to its specialized dentition, crustaceans such as sand hoppers. It often becomes entangled in artisanal fishing nets and is occasionally consumed in the area. It has been documented as carrying poxvirus (similar to smallpox) and a large parasite load. It benefits from a shift in fishing from nets to more selective spinel/longline fishing.
Sperm whales are present regularly throughout the year and eat principally Humboldt squid and Patagonian toothfish. Beached remains have been recorded on the islands and the mainland. Dwarf and pygmy sperm whales (Kogia sp.) which, because of their specialized dentition, feed almost exclusively on small squid, are extremely difficult to observe. They tend to be more frequent in the summer and have been observed resting on the surface near Isla Choros where the remains of stranded individuals have been found. They dive to great depths20. Beaked whales are among the deep diving cetaceans that are the most specialized as regards diet and use of habitat. Almost toothless, they tend to consume exclusively squid. The first documented case of a Peruvian beaked whale, the smallest of the family, in Chilean waters was recorded in this area through the identification of remains and direct observation, even close to the coast. Cuvier's beaked whale has also been observed on several occasions and skeletal remains have been documented on Isla Choros Island and Pájaros Islets. This normally oceanic species is very elusive and visible only under ideal sea conditions.
Dolphins and porpoises:
Dolphins are, in general, the most diverse family of cetaceans found in the area. The majority of dolphin species feed on squid as well as anchovy and sardine and their presence depends on the availability of these prey. Killer whales and false killer whales, on the other hand, prey on other dolphins and marine mammals. The dusky dolphin, a very acrobatic species, has historically been observed most frequently and in larger groups. Since 2003, there has been a population of Risso’s dolphins, with subgroups often observed between La Herradura and the Apolillado beach. This is in addition to the stable presence of the pod-R bottlenose dolphins.
19 Canto et al., 2010. 20 Sanino and Yáñez, 1997.
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu 29
Humpback whale blow. Photograph Francisco Viddi - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 30
Cetacean Species Recorded in the Proposed Protected Area N°
Southern right whale
Balaenidae, Right Whales
Common minke whale
Southern minke whale
Pygmy sperm whale
Dwarf sperm whale
Peruvian beaked whale
Cuvier's beaked whale
Short-beaked common dolphin
Long-beaked common dolphin
Long-finned pilot whale
Southern right whale dolphin
False killer whale
Common bottlenose dolphin
Mysticeti, Baleen Whales.
Ziphiidae. Zifios o ballenas picudas
Odontoceti, Toothed Whales.
Source: Gian Paolo Sanino – Compiled by Fundación Melimoyu
Humboldt penguin. Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 32
2.2.2. Birds The area’s outstanding biological productivity, combined with the natural shelter provided by the island system, means that large bird populations take advantage of the supply of food and the availability of appropriate nesting sites. The islands and islets, in particular, offer protection from predators found on the mainland, especially domestic species such as dogs, cats and rats, while the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve means that human activities are restricted. Based on different studies, it is estimated that there are 122 bird species in the proposed area - that is, almost one fifth of the total number of species recorded in Chile. There are 38 families grouped into 13 orders, the best represented of which are petrels (11), seagulls (11), sandpipers (9) and ovenbirds (8). Out of the seabirds, 19 species are in some conservation category according to national or international criteria21. The migratory species include Buller’s albatross (Thalassarche bulleri), Antarctic prion (Pachyptila desolata), Juan Fernández petrel (Pterodroma externa), Chatham albatross (Thalassarche eremita), white-chinned petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis) and black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris).22 The species, typical of the Humboldt Current, that nest on the islands and islets and have conservation status include:
Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) The Humboldt penguin is found along the Pacific coast of South America between the north of Peru and the Island of Chiloé in the south of Chile. It is a coastal seabird that nests on little islands close to the coast and only rarely on the mainland. According to Wallace and Araya (2015), the global population reached some 36,000 individuals in 2008 of which 80%, or some 30,000, were in Chile23. The Humboldt Penguin National Reserve has the largest concentration of this species in Chile (22,000 individuals in 2008) and is the main breeding ground. The recent conclusions of Simeone about the total number of active nests indicate, in the author’s view, that the national population is decreasing24. For example, the active nests found on Chañaral Island amounted to only 25% of Simeone’s forecast based on censuses between 1999 and 2008. At approximately 1,000, the active nests sampled were equivalent to 2,000 adult penguins while the projected result based on the Wallace and Araya censuses was some 8,000 adults. Adults vary between 65 cm and 70 cm in height and weigh between 3.3 kg and 4.5 kg. They have a life of between 10 and 15 years. Males are larger than females and reach fertile age at approximately three years. The diet of the Humboldt penguin consists mainly of small fish, with some squid and crustaceans. The species on which they feed vary in abundance depending on latitude and availability. The colonies in the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve feed principally on Pacific saury (Scomberesox saurus), anchovy (Engraulis ringens) and sardine (Sardinops sagax).25 Climatic factors such as the El Niño phenomenon may influence the number of Humboldt penguins in the different colonies through their effect on the availability and nutritional quality of the forage species. In the summer and, particularly, February, adults and juveniles completely shed their feathers26. In this period, they lose their impermeability and, with it, the ability to dive for food, remaining on land and fasting. The high metabolic cost of this process means that they must previously build up the energy reserves to withstand
21 IUCN, 2008. Análisis línea de base Reservas Marinas Chañaral, Choros y Damas. 22 Ainley, 1980. 23 Wallace, R. and Araya, B., 2015. Humboldt Penguin Spheniscus humboldti population in Chile: counts of moulting birds, February 1999–2008. Marine Ornithology 43: 107–112. 24 Simeone et al., 2018. Informe Final Proyecto FIPA N°2016-33: “Censo de Pingüinos de Humboldt”. 25 Herling et al., 2005. 26 Simeone et al., 2002. 33
this period27. Their inability to go into the water also means that they are extremely susceptible to any stress caused by external stimuli such as the presence of predators or human beings28. The Humboldt penguin reproduces twice a year: in autumn (March-June) and spring (August-December). In each case, they lay one or two eggs, with an incubation period of 40-42 days which is shared between the parents. After hatching, the chicks remain in the nest for one to two weeks until they are able to regulate their body temperature. Juveniles, which depend on their parents until they are 70-80 days old, are fed by regurgitation. The nests are located in burrows, crevices, on the surface or in sites where the penguins can dig (for example, guano deposits). The success of the nesting and molting processes depends greatly on environmental conditions and, if they are unfavorable (for example, in the case of El Niño), this is detrimental to both processes29. This implies that any threat to the penguins’ food resources must, therefore, be strictly regulated. Competition from industrial and artisanal fishing can become a critical factor in periods of high environmental variability when the negative impact on the ecosystem’s productivity can exceed the penguin’s natural resilience to environmental changes.30,31 It has, for example, been shown that the African penguin (S. demersus) suffered a 70% drop in population in response to the collapse of sardine populations32. In Chile, anchovy and sardines are currently classed as “overexploited” and “exhausted” by the Undersecretariat for Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA) (2015). Because fishing activity and the penguins’ foraging activity overlap in time and territory, they also often become entangled in trawler and seine fishing nets, with fatal consequences. This threat, together with periods of environmental variability (for example, a red tide algal bloom and/or El Niño), could limit the survival of the populations of this species. Moreover, the relative scarcity of marine protected areas and tools and policies for the ecosystemic management of fishing, together with a lack of identification and cooperation of the actors, increases the risk of incidental capture of non-target species such as the Humboldt penguin. 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 34
Cooper, 1978. Ellenberg et al., 2006. Simeone et al., 2002. Walker B. 1995. Sundstrom et al., 2012. Crawfort et al., 2011. Ellenberg et al., 2006; Oetiker, 2009. Mining Ministry, 1990. Supreme Decree (DS) N° 265367/1990.
Another factor that reduces the reproductive success of the Humboldt penguin is the degradation of the natural conditions of its terrestrial habitat. This is mainly due to the introduction of exotic species, some of which compete for shelter and nesting places (for example, rabbits) and prey on eggs or chicks as well as transmitting pathogens (for example, rats). In this sense, the absence of preventive protocols, control and eradication of exotic species, as well as a lack of greater scientific knowledge about their effects, increases the risk of an impact on the species. Tourism and research and their operational activities also alter the behavior and quality of life of the Humboldt penguin. The species is known to be highly sensitive to the presence of humans and, moreover, to have limited potential for becoming accustomed to them, even when not at close quarters. The stress this causes has physiological and reproductive consequences33. The change in land use such as the construction of housing or guano extraction from penguin colonies are also detrimental to the population which is precisely what the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve sought to protect.34 In Chile, the hunting and capture of penguins is regulated by Law N° 18.892 on Fisheries and Aquaculture. Under Supreme Decree (DS) N° 225 (1995), it was banned for 30 years. The species is classified as “vulnerable” (Supreme Decree (DS) N° 50, 2008) as well as by the IUCN (2006) and Birdlife International.
Peruvian diving petrel (Pelecanoides garnotii) The Peruvian diving petrel is a small endemic bird, associated with the Humboldt Current. It lives principally near the coast in Peru and, in Chile, as far south as the Los Ríos Region (Isla Corral. 37°S), although it is not common south of Coquimbo. It is observed alone or in scattered groups. It rests floating on the water and flies very quickly, skimming with swift wing beats which it can keep up for a long time. It is a skillful diver, reaching an average depth of 31 m, with a range of 10-83 m. To nest, it generally excavates deep caves in guano, although its caves have also been found in sandy soil and crevices between the rocks. Outside the breeding season, it lives near its reproduction sites in waters rich in upwellings of the Humboldt Current. Its natural predators are the barn owl (Tyto alba), the borrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) and the sea otter (Lontra felina).
Peruvian diving petrel
In Chile, it nests in only four sites: the Pan de Azúcar, Grande de Atacama and Choros Islands and the Pájaros 2 Islet. The Choros Island colony (in the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve) comprises some 1,500 pairs and is the largest colony in the country35. Isla Chañaral was once the largest breeding site, with as many as 200,000 individuals, but the colony as such disappeared, probably because of the introduction of foxes to the island in 194136. Some individuals can still be seen in nearby waters. The diet of the Peruvian diving petrel appears to vary depending on availability, making it an opportunistic predator. Situations have been reported in which over 85% of its diet corresponds to planktonic invertebrates and others in which it comprises principally anchovy. In Chile, it feeds mainly on juvenile anchovy and krill (Euphausia mucronata). According to BirdLife International (2016), the causes of the decline of the population are the extraction of guano, predation by rats and dogs on some of the islands, incidental capture in fishing nets and an increase in the frequency of El Niño events. They now, in addition, also include the overexploitation of marine resources, particularly anchovy.
lllustrations Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu
The species is classified as “vulnerable” in Chile and “endangered” by the IUCN because of its small range of breeding sites and because all sub-populations are declining rapidly37. However, the population on Choros Island has shown a recovery, thanks principally to the protection of its breeding sites afforded by the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve38. Its use of Pájaros Islets for nesting underlines the importance of expanding the reserve to include them. 35 36 37 38
Fernandez, 2014. Araya and Duffy, 1987. BirdLife International, 2006. Species factsheet: Pelecanoides garnotii. Fernandez, 2014. 35
Peruvian booby. Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 36
Red-legged cormorant (Phalacrocorax gaimardi) This species is mainly associated with the Humboldt Current and is found between northern Peru and the Taitao Peninsula in Chile (Aysén Region). There is a smaller, isolated population on the Atlantic coast of southern Argentina, confined principally to the Santa Cruz Province. The species is found in shallow sea water (with a depth of less than 15 m), generally not more than 3 km from its roosting and breeding sites. It nests in small colonies on steep rocky cliffs, using narrow edges between 3 m and 50 m above sea level. There are estimated to be some 50 breeding sites in Chile. The largest colony in the region is on the northeastern side of Choros Island. In Chile, its conservation status is defined as “insufficiently known” and, by the IUCN, as “near threatened” because of the decline of the relatively small population, due to mortality as a result of fishing operations and their unsustainable exploitation of its forage species39.
The Peruvian booby feeds on fish and, to a small extent, squid. Anchovy, Chilean jack mackerel (Trachurus murphyi) and Chilean silverside (Odontesthes regia) are its most abundant prey. It flies close to the surface of the water, sometimes forming groups in a line or related to pelicans. It fishes by diving into the sea from a great height and with great speed, reaching depths of up to 10 m, with an average of 4.3 m and a maximum duration of the dive of 15 seconds. The threats to the species reported in Chile include uncontrolled tourism and rats. In the case of Choros Island, boats with tourists sail to within a few meters of the nests, posing a threat because, when the bird momentarily leaves the nest, seagulls take advantage of its absence to attack the eggs and chicks. On Pájaros 1 Islet, there is also a plague of rats. This high level threat, combined with the fact that the booby is a very shy species, may help to explain the decrease from 18,000 pairs in 2002 to only 7,289 in 2008.41
Peruvian booby (Sula variegata) This seabird, with its stylized body, has a total length of around 74 cm and a wingspan of 140-150 cm. Associated with the Humboldt Current, it rarely strays more than 10 km from the coast, although it has been sighted at a distance of 39 km. It is found on the Pacific coast of South America, usually between the north of Peru and the Island of Chiloé. However, during El Niño events, it moves to the south of Ecuador (and occasionally as far as Panama) in the north and to Chile’s Aysén Region in the south. The Peruvian booby is a gregarious bird that forms large colonies on cliffs and rocky islands, where it builds its nests which are usually made from algae and guano. It nests in Chile, mainly in January and February, and lays around three eggs, which it incubates for approximately 42 days. No information is available about the global population or the population in Chile. However, it is abundant and the number of nesting colonies has been estimated. There are breeding colonies on Choros Island and Pájaros 1 and 2 Islets, totaling an estimated 18,000 pairs, 15,000 of which were recorded on Pájaros 2 Islet (1999-2000 season). On Choros Island, there are two colonies on the cliffs of the southeast and north of the island, with a variable number of pairs estimated to be of the order of 200. The largest colony in northern Chile is on Pájaros Islets within the proposed area of the MU-CMPA40. 39 BirdLife International, 2016. 40 SUBPESCA, 2015. Plan General de Administración Reserva Marina Islas Choros-Damas. 41 Simeone et al., 2003.
Peruvian booby. lllustration Rafael Edwards-Fundación Melimoyu 37
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 38
Other important birds: Grey gull (Leucophaeus modestus) This bird measures around 45 cm and has long wings and legs and a long, thin beak. Its feathers are grey and, when not in the breeding season, it has a darker head. Its beak, legs and eyes are black. It is typical of the coast of northern Chile and becomes less common towards the south42. Although a coastal bird, it nests in the desert, a long way from the coast, and, during the day, stands over the nest to shade the eggs from the sun and, at night, incubates them to protect them from the cold.
Chilean mockingbird (Mimus thenca) This bird is endemic to Chile. It is small, of brownish color and has a marked light-colored eyebrow and dark eye rim. It inhabits areas with shrub vegetation and scattered trees, xeric slopes with columnar cacti and the Andean foothills. It can imitate the song of other birds and different sounds. It walks and runs well, always with its tail upright. It is an omnivorous species.
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) This migratory bird is one of the most common summer visitors to Chile and is sometimes observed all year round. It does not nest in Chile. It is characterized by its dark curved bill (with which it digs for food) and its muted whistle sound.43 It comes from Alaska and northern Canada.
Franklinâ€™s gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan) This compact, medium-sized (43 cm) gull has a dark hood. It is grey on top, with a white neck and underside and white half-moons around the eyes. Outside the breeding season, its hood is incomplete and faded. It is a migratory bird44 and one of the emblematic summer visitors because of its spectacular migration in large flocks from the great lakes of the northern hemisphere to the Pacific coast of South America.
Black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) This bird is native to Chile and is found in fresh and saltwater wetlands and on the seacoast. It is medium-sized, with legs that are very long in relation to its body, which is thin and with a long neck. Its striking black and white coloring makes it easy to identify and it makes a sound (guaap guaap) that recalls the bark of a dog.45
42 43 44 45
Aves de Chile, http://www.avesdechile.cl/013.htm. Mella, 2009. Idem. Idem.
Chilean mockingbird. lllustration Rafael Edwards - FundaciĂłn Melimoyu 39
2.2.3. Intertidal, subtidal and pelagic communities Between 28°S and 30°S, there are an estimated 85 species of teleosts (fish with bones) and 20 species of chondrichthyans (cartilaginous fish such as rays and sharks). In the proposed marine protected area, 18 species of chondrichthyans and 31 species of teleosts have been recorded.46,47 In the case of teleosts, anchovy, sardine, Peruvian hake (Merluccius gayi) and Chilean jack mackerel (Trachurus murphyi) stand out for their economic importance. They are all subject to fishing restrictions in the form of closed seasons or quotas. Many of these species are the main source of food for birds and mammals considered threatened and are the key part of a short food chain. The case of the sardine illustrates the effects of intensive fishing, which has brought it to the point of exhaustion throughout its distribution areas. Similarly, hake is overexploited throughout Chilean waters.48 The important species of cartilaginous fish in the Coquimbo Bay include the shark known as combtooth dogfish (Centroscyllium nigrum), which is considered endangered by the IUCN. Its presence in the proposed protected area cannot, therefore, be ruled out. Another important species that has been shown to exist in the area is the hooktooth dogfish (Aculeola nigra), a fish endemic to the Humboldt Current, with a very limited area of distribution along the coast of Peru and Chile. It is considered threatened by the IUCN because of trawler fishing. The importance of sharks is that they are in the upper part of the food chain and, therefore, play a fundamental role in regulation of the size of prey populations. Their presence indicates that conditions in the ecosystem are generally good. The different shark species are under threat globally from direct fishing for their fins and indirect fishing (discarding).49 According to the IUCN, over 20% of the world’s elasmobranchii populations are under threat of extinction. Much of the richness of the proposed protected area lies in its macroalgae communities where the assemblage of species best reflects the interface between the northern and southern biogeographic provinces. The heterogeneity of the substrata provides a complex mosaic in which these species interact and combine in various environments. 46 47 48 49 50 51 40
Sielfeld et al., 2010. SERNAPESCA, 2004. Reservas marinas Isla Chañaral e Islas Choros y Damas. SUBPESCA, 2018, Estado de situación de las principales pesquerías chilenas, año 2017. SUBPESCA, 2018, Inf. Técnico N° 124. Nómina de especies objetivo y fauna acompañante. SUBPESCA, 2015. Plan General de Administración Reserva Marina Islas Choros-Damas. Plaza et al., 2018.
Different studies suggest that, in the proposed area, there are some 187 benthic species of which macroalgae (29 species), mollusks and crustaceans are the most diverse and abundant groups while filter feeders such as actinia, corals and sponges are also common. A high level of biodiversity has been observed in the area, particularly around the Choros and Damas Islands and it is estimated that there are some 150 species belonging to 14 phyla. In the characterization carried out for the Management Plan of the Choros-Damas Islands Marine Reserve, the species found were grouped according to the communities of which they form part.50 The most common species of the main communities found in the different substrata of the system of these islands are shown in table in pages 42-43. The most diverse environment corresponds to algae forests. This diversity is associated with their use as shelter by different organisms and the greater availability of resources. Conservation efforts must, therefore, include management plans to maintain the richness and abundance of species in macroalgae-rich areas since a large part of the local biodiversity depends on them.
Anchovy (Engraulis ringens) This is the main fishery in terms of volume in the Southeastern Pacific and dominates the Chilean fishing industry. The anchovy is a clupeiform pelagic fish - with the shape of herring - which lives in the water column at depths of between 10 m and 100 m. It is the main source of food for target conservation species such as the Humboldt Penguin, dolphins and whales. Analysis of the morphology of its otoliths has identified two natural populations: the population in Peru, including the far north of Chile, and the population in centralsouthern Chile.51 The anchovy in the proposed protection area appear to be related principally to the former population.
Anchovy live for around five years and adults have an average size of around 13 cm. However, when subject to stress, they tend to mature earlier and be smaller.52 This effect has been observed in populations with a bimodal size distribution of 12 and 15 cm for the same level of sexual maturity.53 Recent studies have found some relation between the ENSO phenomenon and a decrease in the size of adults as well as changes in the behavior of shoals, which deepen their habitat to more than 50 m following the thermocline or move away from the coast.54
The jack mackerel matures and feeds in the coastal zone and spawns in the ocean at distances of up to 110 nautical miles from the coast. Its wide geographical distribution depends on the physical conditions of the water and it is particularly sensitive to changes caused by the ENSO phenomenon. It prefers cold and oxygenated conditions and, during El Niño events, tends to be concentrated in southern Chile and at greater depths while, during La Niña, it expands northwards and out into the ocean.57
This species spawns between September and February and recruitment occurs between March and July.55
Sardine (Sardinops sagax) Jack mackerel
This species is an important fishing resource but, throughout Chile, has become exhausted.56 It is a clupeiform pelagic fish found from Ecuador in the north to the Island of Chiloé in the south. It lives up to 150 nautical miles from the coast at a maximum depth of 200 m, although it is typically caught at around 40 m. It has a life of between 10 and 12 years and, when sexually mature, measures an average of 26 cm. It serves as forage for the target conservation species. Climate fluctuations are thought to affect the sardine in the same way as the anchovy, including its size and maturity.
Chilean jack mackerel (Trachurus murphyi) This is one of the most important fisheries in the Atacama and Coquimbo Regions, both in terms of volume of catch and cultural value. It accounts for 20% of the fish caught in northern Chile. Until 2010, the catch reached some 80,000 tons but the species became overexploited. The introduction of a strict system of reduction of fishing quotas led to a recovery in stock and size, with catches of around 40,000 tons until 2015. The jack mackerel is a perciform fish, shaped like a perch, found throughout the South Pacific. It lives in dense shoals at depths of between 10 m and 150 m. Adults measure an average of 30 cm and the fish has a life of 16 years. It forms part of the forage of dolphins and some whales as well as sea lions. 52 53 54 55 56 57
Claramunt, 2018. SUBPESCA, 2017. Aedo et al., 2018. SUBPESCA, 2017. SUBPESCA, 2018. SUBPESCA, 2016.
Illustration Rafael Edwards-Fundación Melimoyu 41
Diversity of Species of Intertidal and Subtidal Communities Ha b it at o f Co m m u n it ie s
SHALLOW BARREN EABED
DEEP BARREN SEABED
Acrosorium sp. Asparragopsis armata Corallina spp Glossophora kuntii Halopteris paniculata Heterozostera chilensis Heterozostera tasmanica Lessonia nigrescens Algae
Lessonia trabeculata Macrocystis integrifolia Macrocystis pyrifera Mesophyllum sp74 Montemaria horridula Porphyra columbina Ralfsia sp. Rhodymenia sp. Ulva spp Aplodactylus punctatus Cheilodactylus variegatus Chromis crusma
Girella laevifrons Isacia conceptionis Paralabrax humeralis Pinguipes chilensis Prolatilus jugularis Compiled by Fundaciรณn Melimoyu
Diversity of Species of Intertidal and Subtidal Communities Ha b it at o f Co m m u n it ie s
SHALLOW BARREN EABED
DEEP BARREN SEABED
Austromegabalanus psittacus Balanus laevis Pagurus edwardsi Crustaceans
Pagurus forceps Pagurus villosus Rynchocinetes typus Taliepus dentatus Concholepas concholepas Fissurella latimarginata Fissurella spp.
Nassarius gayi Oliva peruviana Tegula atra Tegula tridentata Turritella cingulata Cribrina hermaphroditica Heliaster helianthus Meyenaster gelatinosus
Sea urchins, star fish and tunicates
Odontaster penicillatus Patiria obesa Pyura chilensis Stichaster striatus Tetrapygus niger
Phragmatopoma moerchi Compiled by Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 43
Krill. Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 44
2.2.4. Phytoplankton and zooplankton Different studies of plankton in the proposed protected area show that both phytoplankton (diatoms) and zooplankton (copepods and krill) comprise few species but are, nonetheless, responsible for the great abundance seen in the area.58 These few species are, therefore, considered vital for the trophic chain, either as food for the larvae of key species or as forage for fish such as sardines and anchovy. Although many species of plankton have a wide distribution area because they float with ocean currents, at least two species are known to be endemic to the Humboldt Current System. According to data collected in upwelling areas, only some six species of diatoms appear to account for almost all the phytoplankton biomass59. High pressure of consumption by zooplankton has been reported to limit the growth of phytoplankton. However, it is so abundant that it can support the food chain and the enormous local biodiversity.
Most Abundant Species of Plankton in the Proposed Protected Area GROUP
SPECIES Chaetoceros spp. Detonula pumila
Eucampia cornuta Guinardia delicatula Rhizosolenia spp
In the case of zooplankton, some 60 known species of copepods are known to exist in the area of which eight are the most abundant near the coast. Similarly, in the case of euphausiids or, in other words, krill, only a couple of species are responsible for the great biomass of this group.
Thalassiosira spp Acartia tonsa Calanus chilensis Centropages brachiatus Zooplancton, copepods
Corycaeus typicus Eucalanus inermis Oithona similis Oncaea conifera Paracalanus parvus
Euphausia eximia Euphausia mucronata Compiled by Fundación Melimoyu
58 SUBPESCA, 2009. FIP N°2009-38 “Monitoreo de las condiciones bio-oceanográficas entre la XV y IV regiones”. 59 SUBPESCA, 2017. IFOP, condiciones bio-oceanográficas entre la XV y IV regiones. 45
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 46
2.2.5. Terrestrial flora The semi-arid climate prevailing in the area where the Atacama and Coquimbo Regions meet gives it a xerophilous ecosystem of vegetation which is, in other words, resistant to the lack of water. From the biogeographic standpoint, the Coquimbo Region is in a transition zone between the absolutely dry climate further north and the more temperate climates that predominate to the south.60 As in the marine environment, this transition zone has a high level of biodiversity, including endemic species. According to the vegetation classification of Gajardo (1994), the terrestrial part of the proposed protected area is referred to as the “Huasco Coastal Desert” and the “Coastal Steppe Shrubland”. These formations are characterized by a great wealth of flora that is a direct consequence of the area’s coastal fog (camanchaca). In turn, according to the bioclimatic classification of Luebert and Pliscoff (2006), the coastal area forms part of the “Coastal Mediterranean Desert Shrubland”.61 Huasco Coastal Desert. This corresponds to the southern sector of the coastal desert in which the vegetation has a greater degree of continuity and permanence, reflecting the rain that occasionally falls in the area. Plant species, albeit not very abundant, are arranged in formations, often dominated by shrubs and succulents. The area marks the southern limit of many species and the northern limit of others, resulting in unique vegetation patterns and a high level of endemism. Coquimbo Coastal Steppe Shrubland. This area is characterized by low shrubs with hard leaves on large coastal terraces and mountain slopes close to the ocean. In favorable conditions, the spring herbaceous stratum shows great development in a phenomenon that can be compared physiognomically to desert bloom. Normally, however, there are large areas of bare ground, dotted with cacti and other succulents.
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu 60 PROED, 2018. 61 Luebert and Pliscoff, 2006. 47
Some key flowers62
Maravilla de campo / Field sunflower (Flourensia thurifera) This species, whose name can be translated as “marvel of the countryside”, is an evergreen shrub belonging to the Asteraceae family and is native of Chile. Characterized by its yellow flowers with five petals, it is found in dry areas of valleys in the Coastal Mountains.
Palito negro / Black stick heliotrope (Heliotropium stenophyllum) The palito negro or “little black stick” is the dominant shrub on west-facing hillsides. It can also be seen in the northern and eastern sectors of Cerro Grande. Its distribution area stretches from the Atacama Region south to the Santiago Region, principally in coastal areas and interior valleys. It is able survive in conditions of scarce moisture.
Palo falso / Desert fuchsia (Fuchsia lycioides) This shrub from the Onagraceae family, which is commonly also referred to as chilco, is native to Chile and grows close to the sea (0-100 m a.s.l.). It is also cultivated as an ornamental plant. It originated in the climate conditions of the coastal steppe, with between 38 and 600 mm of rain. It prefers sunny sites close to the sea and supports salty conditions.
62 Compiled by PROED, 2018. 48
Malvilla / Little mallow (Cristaria glaucophylla) This perennial plant with a blue flower with five petals grows at between 0 and 500 m a.s.l. in dry environments where the period without rainfall lasts for three to five months but annual rainfall, mostly in winter, reaches 400-800 mm. It grows in full sun without any protection in flat areas and on northfacing slopes.
Añañuca / Chilean amaryllis (Rhodophiala advena) This bulbous, perennial plant grows during spring, autumn and winter and blooms in late spring or summer. The flowers have six petals with warm crystalline colors that range from pale orange to intense pink.
Suspiro de mar / Sea morning glory (Nolana paradoxa) This annual or perennial plant, whose name can be translated as “sigh of the sea”, is a succulent and creeper and is sometimes hairy. It has oval leaves with a very pointed apex and a long petiole. Its axillary single flowers close when the light fades. They can be blue, lilac or white, with a white and yellow throat, and have a bell-shaped outer part and a funnel-shaped inner part. The plant can be found on the coast, often on beaches at the tide line, and in inland areas influenced by coastal fogs, on sandy or stony ground. It is the southernmost species of the Nolana genus.
Most Frequent Vegetation in the Proposed Protected Area N°
COMMON NAME (in Spanish)
Heliotropium stenophyllum – Oxalis gigantea
Palo negro and churque
Encelia tomentosa – Nolana paradoxa
Corona de fraile and suspiro del campo
Sarcocornia fruticosa – Juncus acutus
Hierba de jabón and junco espinoso
Adesmia microphylla – Cassia coquimbensis
Espinillo and alcaparra
Heliotropium stenophyllum – Fuchsia lycioides
Palo negro and palo de yegua
Myrcianthes coquimbensis – Echinopsis coquimbanus
Lucumillo and quisco
Nolana filifolia – Plantago hispidula
Suspiro azul and pasto ovejero
Lithrea caustica – Porlieria chilensis
Litre and guayacán
Gutierrezia resinosa–Atriplex atacamensis
Pichanilla and cachiyuyo
Flourensia thurifera–Heliotropium stenophyllum
Maravilla del campo and palo negro
Adesmia tenella – Erodium cicutarium
Arvejilla and alfilerillo
Azara celastrina –Schinus latifolius
Lilén and molle
Avena barbata – Erodium bothrys
Avena brava and alfilerito
Fabiana barriosii – Junellia selaginoides
Pichi and verbena del campo
Tessaria absinthioides – Pleocarphus revolutus
Chilquilla and cola de ratón Source: Gajardo, 1994 - Complied by Fundación Melimoyu
TYPE OF XERIC SHRUBLAND
Huasco Coastal Desert
Coquimbo Coastal Steppe Shrubland
Studies of the coast of the La Higuera municipal district63 indicate that there are 324 species of native vascular plants of which 19% appear to face conservation problems. In addition, in the south of the Atacama Region, around 5% to 10% of plant species have conservation problems. According to the "Libro de la Flora Nativa y de los Sitios Prioritarios para su Conservation" (Book of Native Flora and Priority Sites for their Conservation), the area between the Juan Soldado Hill and Punta de Choros alone contains 73% of the plant species endemic to Chile and 8% of those endemic to the Coquimbo Region. Other studies have allowed us to note that it is a transition signalling the southern limit of many species and the northern limit of others64. The species of flora on the coast that are important because of their endemism and are in a high conservation category include:
Lucumillo / Chilean twinberry (Myrcianthes coquimbensis): This shrub with its beautiful fruit is endemic to the coast of the Coquimbo Region and forms part of its floral heritage. It is scarce and classified as endangered.
Chagual chico / Coastal sheep plant (Puya gilmartiniae): With its grey GuayacĂĄn / Chilean guaiacum (Porlieria chilensis): This native shrub with its very hard wood is found in the areaâ€™s creeks and is classified as vulnerable.
rosette and very beautiful deep violet flower, this plant is found only on the coast where it lives among the rocks. It is classified as vulnerable.
Cactus globosos / Balloon cactus: Several species of this kind of cacti, members of the Eriosyce genus, are endemic to the creeks of the coastal area and some of them such as the Eriosyce simulans, also known as Pyrrhocactus simulans, are critically endangered.
63 Squeo et al., 2001. 64 Luebert y Pliscoff, 2006 51
2.2.6. Terrestrial fauna Notwithstanding its semi-arid conditions, the proposed protected area has an important diversity of terrestrial fauna. There are at least 21 species of native terrestrial mammals, 28 species of birds and ten species of reptiles (albeit few amphibians). The most frequent species are listed in the corresponding table.65 Some native mammal species are easy to observe. The South American grey fox and the culpeo fox, for example, can be seen by the side of roads. Several rodent species, including the common degu and the olive grass mouse, are also abundant. Similarly, the cururo is easy to recognize by its burrows, where it lives feeding on plant bulbs, and is found at up to 3,500 m a.s.l. Hares and rabbits, which are introduced species, are also easy to see as well as some species of bats. Among rodents, there are two endangered species: the chinchilla, of which there is a population in the Honda Creek, and the dune mouse, a species endemic to the area, which lives in the wide sandy areas of the Los Choros Creek near the coast.66 In higher parts of the Coastal Mountains, pumas, which hunt guanacos, have been reported, with the sighting of at least one female with her cubs. There are also reports of sightings of the pampas cat, güiña wildcat, lesser grison and skunk. These carnivores, particularly the felines, have conservation status. On the coast, there is an important population of guanacos which move around the Los Choros Creek and along the plains and creeks n ext to the coast. It is the southernmost coastal population in Chile and comprises approximately 300 individuals grouped into various herds. This species faces a loss of habitat due to human activity as well as competition from goats and is occasionally also hunted. Reptiles are relatively abundant, albeit limited in diversity. They comprise species that are highly adapted to dry conditions such as the dwarf tegu, which lives on the coast, and several species of lizards of the Liolaemus genus, found in rocky habitats and bushes. It is also possible to see the matuasto lizard and the long-tailed snake as well as the marked gecko, a species endemic to the Coquimbo Region and classified as vulnerable. Due to the biogeographic barrier of the desert, the Atacama Region marks the north of the distribution area of numerous birds native to Chile.67 This is the case, for example, of the white-crested elaenia, the fire-eyed diucon, the Chilean plantcutter, the Chilean 65 Sistema de Evaluación Ambiental (SEA). Linea de Base Fauna Vertebrada Terrestre Proyecto Dominga. 66 ULS, 2010. Biodiversidad y conservación de vertebrados del humedal de La Boca y dunas costeras de Los Choros. 67 Aves de Chile, 2018. 52
seagull, the many-colored rush-tyrant and the tufted tit-tyrant. There are also species typical of the dry coast such as the common miner which nests in sandbanks and on soft slopes. The white-winged cinclodes and the buff-winged cinclodes are also found in the area, with the latter preferring to live along water courses, at waterholes or on the coast. The greenish yellow finch from Peru and the black-billed shrike-tyrant feed on small lizards and sometimes live in abandoned mines. Another bird typical of the Atacama Region is the correndera pipit, which does not go higher than 1,000 m a.s.l. The chestnutthroated seedeater and the Atacama wren, an insect-eating bird that nests among stones or in the bark of trees, as well as the barn swallow, a summer visitor, tend to live in cultivated areas. It is also easy to observe species that are native to central Chile such as the abundant Chilean mockingbird, the less common white-banded mockingbird and, in wetlands, the spectacled tyrant, which catches insects in flight, as well as the common diuca finch, with a broad latitudinal distribution, and the black-hooded sierra finch, which lives on the sides of hills. Other birds with a wide distribution around Chile that are found in the La Higuera municipal district are the black-chinned siskin, which prefers cultivated land; the long-tailed meadow lark, which lives in low humid areas; the fire-eyed diucon, which lines its nest with moss and lichen; and the grassland yellow finch. The most common birds of prey are the variable hawk and the peregrine falcon, found near the coast. It is also possible to see condors observing seal colonies as well as the more common black vulture. Nocturnal hunters are also common and include the burrowing owl and the common owl close to cultivated areas. It is important to mention the Patagonian conure (burrowing parrot), a species considered vulnerable, which is found close to the proposed protected area. It has been threatened for years because of its capture for sale on the black market where it fetches high prices. It is possible to find it on the sides of the Los Choros Creek. This species has a form of social organization that includes a look-out system since it is easily upset by the presence of humans and their activities. Another vulnerable species that can be seen throughout the area is the black-faced ibis.
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 53
Guanacos. Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 54
Most Common Terrestrial Vertebrates in the Proposed Protected Area N°
COMMON NAME Amphibians
Olive grass mouse
Large long-clawed mouse
Molina’s hog-nosed skunk
Common vampire bat
American black vulture
Common diuca finch
South American grey fox
Long-tailed pygmy rice rat
Darwin's leaf-eared mouse
Elegant fat-tailed mouse opossum
Black-hooded sierra finch
Grassland yellow finch
Greenish yellow finch
Long-tailed meadow lark
Southern house wren
Chilean marked gecko
Gravenhorst's tree iguana
Shining tree iguana
61 species of vertebrates
Compiled by Fundación Melimoyu 55
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 56
2.3. CHARACTERIZATION OF LOCALITIES
Human activity in the proposed protected area dates back over 10,000 years. What has changed over time is the nature of the activities, the number of people and, above all, the actual and potential impact of their activities. Each of these factors compounds the others and it is also necessary to consider the rate at which the level of impact is accelerating. In the twenty-first century, the mining industry moves more material in one day than, in the nineteenth century, it moved in a whole year. The biomass which the fishing fleet can extract in one day is greater than that which pre-Hispanic fishermen could catch from the shore or their rafts in a whole year. This does not mean that any expansion of these or other activities should be prohibited, but it does imply that the present generation has a duty to proceed with caution, use all the available scientific knowledge and establish management mechanisms to safeguard each of the ecosystems, species and environmental services that are Chile’s natural heritage and, over the centuries, have contributed to the construction of its cultural heritage.
2.3.1. Background The Freirina municipal district is located in the south of the Atacama Region and neighbors to the south on the La Higuera municipal district. Administratively, it forms part of the Huasco Province, whose capital is Vallenar. The district has an area of 3,207 km² and 7,041 inhabitants.68 Settlements follow the regional pattern and are principally in creeks and on the coast. The La Higuera municipal district is located in the north of the Coquimbo Region, between the La Serena municipal district and the boundary with the Atacama Region. It forms part of the Elqui Province whose capital is Coquimbo. The district has an area of 4,158.2 km² and 4,241 inhabitants.69 With the exception of La Higuera itself, settlements follow the same pattern as for the Freirina district. Both municipal districts are clear cases of human settlement linked to mining, with the population migrating when the industry declined. For example, in the 1960s, the La Higuera district had a population of almost 10,000 but, with migration, dropped to a low of less than 3,000 in 2012. In recent years, however, the population has shown a steady increase and La Higuera is no longer the least populated district in the Region. At present, it ranks 13th out of the 15 municipal districts in the Coquimbo Region and, in the period between the last two censuses, showed the third highest rate of growth. 68 Censo 2017, Atacama Region. https://resultados.censo2017.cl/Region?R=R03. 69 Censo 2017, Coquimbo Region. https://resultados.censo2017.cl/Region?R=R04. 70 SUBDERE-Coquimbo, 2009. Plan Regional de Desarrollo Urbano, 2009 – 2020. 58
Both Freirina and La Higuera are poor rural districts in which old and young people predominate. By contrast, La Serena, the regional capital, has achieved important urban and tourism development. The economic development of the Coquimbo and Atacama Regions has been based historically on the exploitation of minerals, principally silver, copper, iron and gold. Although mining is expected to remain the mainstay of the economy, activities based on renewable natural resources, such as fishing and tourism, are expected to growing, resulting in economic diversification. The La Higuera district has specialized in fishing, mining and quarrying. The district’s six fishing towns together have an annual catch of 4,228 tons, accounting for close to 7% of the total artisanal fishing catch of the Region. Small-scale mining produces 53,699 grams of gold per year, equivalent to almost 10% of the regional output of the small-scale gold mining sector. Despite the important potential of tourist attractions related to the sea, this activity has as yet little importance in the district, employing only some 50 people or around 1% of those who work in the sector around the Region.70 The district receives around 60,000 visitors a year, equivalent to 10% of total visitors to the Region, but they mostly visit only for the day, due to a lack of services to go with its attractions. The two districts have similar environmental problems. According to the La Higuera Municipal Development Plan 2014-2017, they are principally: • Problems related to a lack of water resources. Both municipal districts suffer from a lack of water for household and agricultural use. In the case of La Higuera, the main source is the Los Choros Creek aquifer whose level has been declining in recent decades. In Punta Colorada and El Trapiche, supply is insufficient for household use. Water from the aquifer is used to irrigate olive plantations in Los Choros and is still not a critical problem. However, it could become so if depletion of the aquifer continues, exacerbating the intrusion of salt water from the sea in the aquifer, with the resulting damage to the quality of the freshwater. • Lack or deficient standards of basic services such as sewage collection and drinking water. The availability of basic services is insufficient, particularly in summer in areas along beaches used, without regulation, for camping. This results in the temporary installation of cesspits and scattered waste dumps. Along the coast, there are also a large number of people who live there all the year in houses without basic services and one of the most frequent complaints is poor water quality.
La Higuera. Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 59
Caleta Carrizalillo. Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 60
• Management and treatment of solid waste. The municipal governments of the two districts are responsible for the collection and treatment of solid waste, which still fall short of needs. For collection, they have only two trucks and insufficient personnel and there are, as a result, uncontrolled micro dumps. • Lack of environmental education for the community. Development of a public policy in this field has been slow. The National Forest Service (CONAF) implements occasional and, generally, seasonal initiatives on care for the environment. Other efforts have been made by the Ministry of the Environment and the municipal government in terms of care for beaches during the summer and workshops in certain schools. The work of the Center for the Advanced Study of Arid Zones (CEAZA) through the “Science, Education and Sustainability for the Tourist Development of the Coquimbo Region” project71 and in terms of the diffusion of science in general72 stands out in this field. • Mining and fishing activities. The waste produced by industrial and artisan fishing is emptied directly into the sea, without regulation. This is also the case of the algae collectors who intervene the beaches. Most mining waste goes to the Coquimbo municipal landfill while the rest is left as a liability in the area where it was generated. This includes abandoned tailings. Similarly, artisanal mining produces damage through the uncontrolled disposal of its waste, with the risk of landslides. • Industrial waste. Each company is responsible for sending its industrial waste to the Coquimbo municipal landfill. • Indiscriminate exploitation of hydrobiological resources. Intensive artisanal fishing of the area’s benthic resources outside the management areas (AMERBs) poses a threat to their sustainability. • Landslides and mudslides. Given the fragility of the ground in these two municipal districts and taking into account the hydrodynamics of the basins, studies are required to evaluate the level of risk in the event of heavy rainfall (for example, due to the El Niño phenomenon). Most of the surface is bare which aggravates the instability of the sides of hills.
2.3.2. Characterization of localities The following coastal localities are within the proposed protected area. They are all in the La Higuera municipal district, except the first two which are in the Freirina municipal district: • Chañaral de Aceituno • Caleta Carrizalillo • Punta de Choros • Los Choros • Chungungo • Caleta Totoralillo Norte • Caleta Los Hornos In addition, there are three inland localities: • La Higuera, municipal capital • Punta Colorada • El Trapiche Socioeconomically, all these localities have similar characteristics: • Insufficient basic services, including in some places the absence of sewage collection. • Difficulty of access, with roads in only fair condition except for localities close to Highway 5 North; other common problems are an absence of signage and a scarcity of public transport which is, moreover, too expensive in relation to the income of the population requiring this service. • Lack of job opportunities. The population depends on subsistence activities (fishing, goats, artisanal mining) or suffers a high level of job instability, preventing the satisfaction of their basic needs. Most of the population is below the poverty line, prompting emigration in search of more opportunities.
71 CEAZA, 2014. 72 DIFUCIENCIA, 2018. http://www.difuciencia.cl/difuciencia/que-somos-y-que-hacemos 61
• Insufficient educational coverage. In some localities, education is in a single-teacher school (different age groups taught in the same classroom). In smaller localities, schools go only up to 6th grade elementary or, in the best of cases, 8th grade. The only school offering up to 3rd grade secondary scientific-humanistic education is in La Higuera (it is expected to reach 4th grade in 2020). This leads to desertion, the migration of families to other localities or family disintegration when children must leave to continue their education. • Fragile housing. Most houses are of light material and some are in poor condition and too small for the number of inhabitants. • Demographic imbalance. There is a predominance of men73 although this tends to be less marked in larger localities. According to the Municipal Development Plan 2014-2017, poverty has increased in La Higuera. This reflects a number of factors of which the most important seems to be the lack of job opportunities: “In 2010, the information provided by the 2009 CASEN survey showed a municipal district with a poverty rate of just over 11%, with an index of a “poor” municipal population, including poverty and extreme poverty. Although the data was not encouraging, Chile was just coming out of the Asian crisis and, in the specific case of La Higuera, had been affected by the decline of artisanal fishing. There was a perception among regional and municipal authorities that better days would come for the Region and La Higuera, but the update of this data in the 2011 CASEN survey showed a poverty rate, including extreme poverty, of 17%, an increase on the previous survey that makes the district’s development even more worrying.” 74 Other factors mentioned in the report include the perception of a lack of public safety in the face of crimes with a social impact, domestic violence, especially towards women, and the lack of opportunities for young people and school desertion. In the Human Development Index (HDI)75 of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the La Higuera and Freirina municipal districts rank 193rd and 149th, respectively, in Chile (out of a total of 341 municipal districts).76
The characterization by locality presented below is based on the final report of the Fishing Research Fund (FIP) Project 200656, contained in the La Higuera Municipal Development Plan 2014-2017.
Chañaral de Aceituno Chañaral de Aceituno is a fishing village in the Freirina municipal district (Atacama Region), located about 90 km southwest of Vallenar, close to Chañaral Island (Humboldt Penguin National Reserve). It has about 500 inhabitants. There are also some farming families who produce olives and keep goats. The village has a rural health clinic, drinking water through the system to supply rural areas and electricity. A subsidized transport program was recently introduced to provide access to Vallenar and places in between.77 The main organized groups are the Fishermen’s Union, the Tourism Association and the Neighborhood Association. The Fishermen’s Union has 114 members and 32 boats equipped with a motor. There are, however, a total of more than 200 registered fishermen. The largest group are the shell fishermen, followed by the algae collectors. The Union administers three benthic fishery management areas close to the village: Chañaral de Aceituno, Chañaral de Aceituno Sector B and Chañaral de Aceituno Sector C.
Caleta Carrizalillo This small locality south of Chañaral de Aceituno is connected to the rural drinking water system and the power grid. There are plans to improve its quay by installing a 4-ton winch, an 80-m2 warehouse and a 300-m2 esplanade.
Caleta El Apolillado This locality is in the La Higuera municipal district close to the boundary with the Atacama Region. Access is by Road D-110 from the Punta de Choros sector. Work is beginning on a series of projects to improve its quay and access under the Coquimbo Region’s Plan for Rural Fishing Villages.
73 Censo 2017, Coquimbo Region. https://resultados.censo2017.cl/Region?R=R04 74 Municipalidad de la Higuera. Plan de Desarrollo Comunal 2014-2017. 75 Since 1990, the UNDP has used the HDI as its principal tool for measuring human development. The HDI tracks progress in three fundamental dimensions: a long and healthy life (measured as life expectancy at birth); acquisition of knowledge that is valuable for the individual and society (measured as literacy rates and school enrolment); and availability of the income to maintain a decent standard of living (measured as per capita income adjusted for purchasing power parity). An index is calculated for each of these three dimensions of which a simple average is taken to arrive at the overall HDI. 76 PNUD-MIDEPLAN, 2003. Las Trayectorias del Desarrollo Humano en las comunas de Chile (1994-2003). 77 GORE, Atacama, 2017. Diagnóstico Plan Marco de Desarrollo Territorial Chañaral de Aceituno. 62
Caleta ChaĂąaral de Aceituno. Photograph Rafael Edwards - FundaciĂłn Melimoyu 63
Caleta Punta de Choros. Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 64
Punta de Choros, Los Choros y El Llano These three coastal localities in the La Higuera municipal district, 94 km north of the city of La Serena, 44 km from La Higuera and 20 km from Highway 5, are located close to each other but are socioeconomically very different. Punta de Choros is well-known in Chile as the focal point of tourism in the area, due to its proximity to the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve (among other attractions) and because of the controversy a few years ago about the possible construction of the Barrancones thermoelectric plant just 20 kilometers away (a project that was finally discarded). The town began life as a fishing settlement on land belonging to the Los Choros Agricultural Community. It has paved access along Road D-110 from Highway 5. People have lived in the Los Choros area - or San José de Los Choros as it is also called since pre-Inca times when it was inhabited by the indigenous Chango people. There are also references to Los Choros in the colonial period, dating back to 1726.78 The town is the center of activity for the agricultural community of the same name. The three localities together have over 600 inhabitants, with a marked predominance of men (60%). There are some 300 houses, rural schools, a primary health center and four rural points of medical attention. There is street lighting and the houses have electricity and rural drinking water but no sewage collection. Most men work in artisanal fishing and there are 222 fishermen,79 organized in two associations which together administer four benthic fishery management and exploitation areas. Tourism has not developed in Los Choros or El Llano, even though they are close to Punta de Choros, with its well-known attractions. This is something that their inhabitants would like to see change.
Caleta Chungungo This fishing village is located 65 km north of La Serena and 24 km from the town of La Higuera. Access is along Road D-180, a gravel road in fair condition, 25 km from where this road joins Highway 5. It has approximately 380 inhabitants, most of whom work in artisanal fishing. It is next to the old port of the El Tofo Mine, which is now closed, although some of its installations can still be seen in nearby Cruz Grande, a tiny settlement. It had a thermoelectric power plant, a theater and a mechanized wharf, most of which were dismantled around 1978.
El Tofo Mine operated a camp system, at both the port and mine, without good connection with the local population. The company hired workers from other parts of the Region and country - particularly in the case of those with some level of specialization even after its acquisition by the Chilean state. Managers were mostly from overseas. Following the closure of the mine, the town has continued to subsist, thanks to artisanal fishing, goat farming and, more recently, tourism. In many cases, family income fails to cover basic needs and the population is below the poverty line. The village does not have sewage collection and other basic services, although there is a desalination plant that supplies the rural drinking water system. The school operates under the single teacher system and goes only up to 6th grade, so families tend to move to the city or children drop out of formal education. The lack of sewage collection is one of the village’s most serious problems. Among other drawbacks, it prevents people wanting to benefit from the tourism by selling seafood from doing so because they are unable to obtain the necessary health permits. The poor state of the roads is a further handicap. The village has three fishing organizations with a total of 92 members on the Artisanal Fishing Register (RPA). Some are members of more than one organization. These organizations administer five benthic fishery management and exploitation areas.
Caleta Totoralillo Norte This fishing village is 5 km south of Chungungo. Access is along Road D-190, a gravel road in good condition, 20 km from where this road joins Highway 5. The village developed in the nineteenth century as a result of La Higuera’s copper and gold mining activity and was the municipal district’s first mining port from which cargo sailboats left for the north. Copper was also smelted in foundries of which, today, only the ruins remain on the beach, along with smelting slag in the intertidal zone. There is also the wreck of a ship in the subtidal zone. Ten people, mostly artisanal fishermen, live in the village. It has a fishermen’s organization with 36 members, 34 of whom are on the Artisanal Fishing Register (RPA). It administers three benthic fishery management and exploitation areas.
78 Municipalidad de la Higuera. Plan de Desarrollo Comunal (PLADECO) 2010 – 2013. 79 SERNAPESCA, 2008. Informe de la Pesquero Artesanal, Región de Coquimbo. 65
Caleta Los Hornos. Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 66
Caleta Los Hornos Caleta Los Hornos is located next to Highway 5, 36 km north of La Serena, and has approximately 600 inhabitants. It is considered the southern point of entry to the municipal district. It has a winding main street and two beaches: Los Hornos and La Despensa, located about 200 m away. It has electricity, rural drinking water, a sewage collection system, a school and a medical center. In 2012, work began on a new quay and other complementary infrastructure designed to boost tourism activity. The village began life as a fishing settlement and experienced a boom related to copper mining and smelting in Totoralillo Norte which, however, only lasted until the beginning of the twentieth century when most of the population emigrated. Its subsequent evolution has been related to its proximity to Highway 5. When Highway 5 was upgraded to an expressway, income from its traditional restaurants decreased considerably, with the disappearance of the direct access to the village that had been one of their main attractions.80 The village has two fishermen’s organizations which administer three benthic fishery management and exploitation areas: Hornos, Hornos Sector B and Las Minitas. According to the Municipal Diagnosis,81 housing is cramped and many families have to live with relatives. This is attributed to “the lack of organization and commitment on the part of the authorities in generating feasibility and applying through the housing committee for the housing subsidies and projects available from the state.” The most important concern of its inhabitants is a lack of job opportunities, along with deficiencies in health care and education.
Punta Colorada Located towards the interior of the La Higuera municipal district, approximately 90 km from the city of La Serena, Punta Colorada grew up, according to its inhabitants, around a railway station from which minerals were shipped and where inputs for the mining industry were received. This period was characterized by greater social and economic stability. Today, the village has less than 300 inhabitants, some of whom moved there in 1997 from Pajaritos hamlet, after a landslide destroyed their homes and the government erected temporary housing in Punta Colorada. 80 Castillo, C., 2017. Informe Socioeconómico de la Comuna de La Higuera. 81 Idem
The road from Highway 5, which used to be impassable when it rained, has been improved, but the streets are unpaved. The village has rural drinking water but no sewage collection. The school goes up to 6th grade, after which students must move to El Trapiche for the last two years of their elementary education and then to La Higuera, La Serena or Coquimbo for secondary education. The main problem is a lack of job opportunities and the population subsists mostly by keeping goats and micro-scale mining and with the support provided through the La Higuera municipal government’s Pro-Employment Program. In general, these activities do not cover basic needs and the village is below the poverty line.
El Trapiche Located 22 km north of La Higuera and approximately 101 km from the city of La Serena, El Trapiche has some 350 inhabitants. The streets are not paved and houses are fragile. The village has rural drinking water and sewage collection and treatment, although houses outside the village receive water by tanker truck. There is a rural point of medical attention, staffed by a paramedic. The village has a school that goes up to 8th grade.
La Higuera Located 61 km north of the city of La Serena in the interior of the municipal district, La Higuera has more than 1,000 inhabitants. Access to the town is by paved road at a distance of 2 km from Highway 5. The access road is in adequate condition despite having been interrupted for traffic in 2017 by episodes of rain and mudslides. Despite being the municipal capital, La Higuera lacks good public transport connections. Some shared taxis connect it with the regional capital but, otherwise, the only alternative is to walk to Highway 5 and catch a bus there. Some of the streets in the center of the town are paved and it has all the basic services (albeit of deficient quality). It is the only locality analyzed here that provides schooling up to 3rd grade secondary education and, therefore, receives students from other towns and villages in the municipal district. It has a family health center, with a specialist for each area, who also visit other places in the district.
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 68
2.4. USE OF THE TERRITORY
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 70
2.4.1. Commercial shipping A large number of commercial ships use the seas off the La Higuera and Freirina municipal districts, making them a true shipping highway. According to the Marine Traffic tracking service, over 2,000 boats passed through the area in 2017,82 including those using the ports of Coquimbo-La Herradura and Huasco-Guacolda (Map N° 7). The main risk posed by shipping in the vicinity of a marine reserve is that of collisions with larger cetaceans, which can result in specimen’s death or, at least, serious injury. The recommended way to guard against this risk is by (1) limiting the overlap of ships and cetaceans in space and time and (2) reducing ship’s speed. Key examples of this can be seen in California, particularly the shipping lanes of the Santa Barbara Channel near the reserves of the same name and the ports of San Francisco and Boston. The latter reduced the probability of collision with a whale by 81% by modifying the entry route to the port.83 However, the most effective measure which is, moreover, applicable to vessels of all types is a speed limit of 10 knots (18 km/h) in areas with a high whale density.84 This gives cetaceans time to avoid the vessel, reducing the risk of collision by 90%. Over the past 30 years, there have been relatively few reports in Chile of the death of a cetacean as a result of a collision. 85This can be attributed largely to the fact that traffic is less intense than in other parts of the world. Finally, there is the risk of an oil spill. Spills occur when an oil tanker is shipwrecked or becomes beached or when oil is being transferred to the coast. They can always be prevented providing the ship is less than 25 years old, its oil tanks are located above the waterline and are isolated from the hull and, in the case of oil tankers, have a double hull.86 According to the Chilean Navy’s General Directorate of Maritime Territory and the Merchant Navy (DIRECTEMAR), 2,329 ships sailed off the coast of Coquimbo in 2013. They were mostly freighters of different types, followed by bulk carriers and fuel tankers and, in much smaller percentages, fishing boats and passenger carriers.87
82 83 84 85 86 87
NOTE: Based on figures for 2013, due to damage to equipment for the remote detection of vessels in the earthquake of 16 September 2015 as a result of which DIRECTEMAR has since lacked information about the area in question.
Marine Traffic, 2018. Conn and Silber, 2013. Wiley et al., 2011. Van Waerebeek et al., 2007. International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). http://www.imo.org/ DIRECTEMAR, Informe de datos, 2014. 71
2.4.2. Industrial and semi-industrial fishing
transit of fishing vessels in the Atacama and Coquimbo Regions in 2013 shows that, out of 120 trips, 76% corresponded to trawler or seine fishing boats.
Along the coast of Chile from the border with Peru in the north to south of the Island of Chiloé, the General Fisheries and Aquaculture Law sets aside an area with a width of 5 nautical miles measured from the coast for the exclusive use of artisanal fishing. However under the law, this Artisanal Fishing Reserved Area (ARPA) can also be used by the industrial fleet if no artisanal fishing is taking place or when the development of both fishing sectors is compatible.
In general, this fleet uses trawling for crustaceans and demersal fish such as hake and seine fishing for pelagic fish such as sardine and anchovy. Trawling is the least selective and potentially most destructive method since it involves dragging a weighted net across the seabed, indiscriminately catching species of no commercial value and with the risk of destabilizing seabed sediments.93 Similarly, seine fishing extracts large volumes of pelagic resources and also incidentally captures birds and marine mammals.
The authorities have detected that fish populations are below their historical levels. The Spanish sardine population, for example, has been exhausted throughout its area of distribution in central and northern Chile and catches in the Atacama and Coquimbo Regions are now a fraction of their maximum two decades ago. Similarly, hake has been overfished in most of the country as well as anchovy. The latter species has shown significant variations in catch volumes over the past 40 years. These resources are the main food of the target conservation species of the proposed protected area.88
A reform of the Fishing Law in 2003 (Law N° 19.907) expressly forbade bottom trawling within the 5-mile limit, but this ban did not include crustaceans such as shrimp and prawns or other species that can only be fished using this method. Bottom trawling is, as a result, permitted in the area reserved for artisanal fishing in the Great Coquimbo Bay, among other places.
In the last period analyzed, anchovy was over exploited in most of Chile’s territorial waters, but underexploited in the Atacama and Coquimbo Regions.89 In these two regions, catches are, however, well below their record level in 1994. In 2017, the total catch in the two regions reached 47,000 tons of which the Coquimbo Region accounted for 71% (34,000 tons).90 The Chilean nylon shrimp (Heterocarpus reedi) supports a large part of the local food chain because of its dual function as food for the forage species and a complement to the diet of the protected species. Its fishing yield has decreased steadily and many of the boats fishing it in the proposed protected area are concentrated around the Pájaros Islets and within the 5-mile limit close to existing reserves91 (Map N° 6). Data from DIRECTEMAR for the ports of Caldera, Huasco and Coquimbo shows that, in 2017, there were a total of 506 fishing boats of different sizes.92 Out of this total, 95% corresponded to boats of less than 50 gross tons or, in other words, artisanal fishing boats. The port of Coquimbo accounted for 69% of the total. In addition, data for the 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 72
SUBPESCA, 2018. Estado de situación de las principales pesquerías chilenas. Idem. SUBPESCA, 2017. Plan de manejo para la pesquería de anchoveta y sardina española de la III y IV regiones. IFOP, 2017. Programa de Seguimiento de las Pesquerías de Crustáceos demersales. DIRECTEMAR, Boletín Estadístico Marítimo, 2018. Tillin et al., 2006. Soto et al., 2018.
Moreover, although Law N° 20.657 specified an ecosystem approach to the calculation of catch quotas, scientific-technical reports are, in practice, biological-fishery analyses, based on a single species, that ignore ecosystem, social, economic and environmental variables to the detriment of the quality of decision-making.94 In addition, under the current Fisheries Law, catch quotas is ultimately defined by the National Fisheries Council (CONAPE), independently of the recommendation of the IFOP Scientific and Technical Committee, with which they may be inconsistent.
2.4.3. Artisanal fishing In the area of influence of the proposed protected area, there are eight fishing villages: Chañaral de Aceituno, Caleta Carrizalillo, El Apolillado, Punta de Choros, Choros, Chungungo, Totoralillo Norte and Los Hornos. According to the Artisanal Fishing Register (RPA), there were 522 registered fishermen in 2008, a figure that increased to 581 in 2010. In Chañaral de Aceituno, the Fishermen’s Union had 114 members. No more recent data is available. Fishermen’s formal family income can be estimated considering that, in 100% of cases, this comes mainly from activities related to fishing, complemented by microenterprise activities such as commerce and services at canning companies or at home.95 Given these temporary activities, their income varies over the year but, on average, is equivalent to the legal minimum wage. The income of households that depend on artisanal fishing is, therefore, precarious, given the decrease in this activity during the autumn and winter months.
NOTE: Based on figures for 2013, due to damage to equipment for the remote detection of vessels in the
earthquake of 16 September 2015 as a result of which DIRECTEMAR has since lacked information about the area in question.
However, around 30% of the fishermen in Punta de Choros and Los Choros also obtain income from tourism, principally in the form of observation tours and transport to Damas Island in the summer.
95 Stötz, 2008
The artisanal fishing zone comprises areas of free access and Management Areas for the Exploitation of Benthic Resources (AMERBs in spanish). According to information from the National Fishing Service (SERNAPESCA) to 2017, 18 AMERBs had been awarded to ten union organizations, of which 15 were in the Coquimbo Region and three in the Chañaral de Aceituno sector in the Atacama Region. These organizations are assigned annual fishing quotas and their formal landing registers indicate catches of 432 tons of abalone, 425 tons of surf clams, 69 tons of crab and 40 tons of limpets, totaling some 966 tons of products from an exploitation area of 4,223 hectares, equivalent to approximately 28% of the area of all the AMERBs in the Coquimbo Region.96 In the specific case of the AMERBs near the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, such as Chañaral de Aceituno, El Apolillado, Isla Choros, Punta de Choros and Los Choros, the benthic resources extracted in 2018 corresponded to 46,000 tons of kelp and other species of algae that structure the habitat of the Reserves. Other resources of the AMERBs include surf clams, Chilean abalone, sea urchins, limpets and razor clams (culengues)” whose exploitation exceeds 16,000 tons in addition to 25,000 tons of different species of fish.97 Given the volume of kelp extracted, there is an urgent need to evaluate the impact of inadequate brown algae collection on the target conservation species and, in particular, the Humboldt penguin.
Photograph Rafael Edwards – Fundación Melimoyu
The sector’s outstanding productivity permits great development of suspensivorous organisms such as barnacles and tunicates which, apart from their economic importance, are the principal source of food for the abalone, the area’s main resource. It produces approximately 60% of all the Coquimbo Region’s abalone and a number of studies have shown that all the area has high rates of larval retention and recruitment.98 The AMERBs have become economically and socially important because the resources obtained by the artisanal fishermen there are greater than in areas of free access (except in the case of algae). The AMERBs in Punta de Choros are the most successful, particularly in the case of abalone. Punta de Choros is the village with the largest abalone catch and the highest income from this resource.
96 SERNAPESCA, 2008. Informe de la Pesquero Artesanal, Región de Coquimbo. 97 SERNAPESCA, 2018 98 Gaymer et al., 2007 75
According to CONAF, out of a total of 58,161 visitors to the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve in 2017, 85% were Chileans and 15% were from overseas.
Despite the area’s important tourist attractions, this sector’s development is very incipient, except perhaps in Punta de Choros and Chañaral de Aceituno, with their relationship with the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve.
An evaluation by Hoyt and Iñiguez (2008) in the area of the proposed protected area estimated that, in the case of Isla Chañaral, the active operators (fishermen) have eight boats and, in the case of Choros-Damas, 40 boats. The unit price per person is US$12, giving a direct income for Isla Chañaral of US$6,480 (assuming 540 visits per year) and, for Choros-Damas, US$146,820 (12,235 visits per year). According to the authors, indirect and direct income from ecotourism totals US$99,090 per year for the community of Chañaral de Aceituno and US$860,243 per year for the community of Punta Choros-Los Choros.
According to the La Higuera Municipal Development Plan 2014-2017, tourism has great potential in the district, but this not been exploited. Services for tourists are scarce and visitors tend not to stay very long. According to the Plan, the most desirable development hypothesis would imply that: “The La Higuera municipal district is recognized as the platform for coastal tourism and the gateway to tourism in the Coquimbo Region and the north of Chile; there are tourist services in line with the sector’s benefits.” As of 2014, tourism in the Coquimbo Region had created some 7,000 jobs and was visited by large numbers of tourists each year and recognized as one of the most popular destinations in Chile. In the 2017-2018 seasons, more than 2 million tourists are estimated to have visited the Region, up by 10% on the previous season. Out of these, between 20% and 30% are thought to have been Argentines, attracted mainly by the beaches. In the summer of 2018 alone, there were an estimated 1 million visitors and 22 cruises stopped off in the Region. According to the Coquimbo Chamber of Tourism, the Region bases its tourism development on activities related to the sea, valleys and astronomy.99
Environmental and scientific tourism: The area of the proposed protected area offers very good conditions for the development of special interest tourism. This was recognized, for example, by the 2014 CEAZA project,100 the La Higuera Municipal Development Plan and the Chañaral de Aceituno Framework Territorial Development Plan. The main attraction for visitors is observation of fauna (large colonies of seabirds and mammals) and, in the case of the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, also flora. A particular attraction is observation of the family of bottlenose dolphins that inhabit the area (pod-R, Section 2.2.1), offered by artisanal fishermen.101 Another popular alternative in summer is the watching of fin whales to which attention has been drawn by CEAZA’s activities and platforms.
99 Cámara de Turismo de Coquimbo, 2018. 100 CEAZA, 2014. Related to projects financed by the Innovation for Competitiveness Fund (FIC). 101 DTS Consultores, 2008. Estudio Básico Diagnóstico y Plan de Desarrollo Turístico, Comuna de La Higuera.
However, there is a lack of quality infrastructure for tourism which is, moreover, not adequately regulated and administered, implying a direct threat to the fauna that is, precisely, the object of the visits.
Surfing on the La Ventana Beach: A little north of Punta de Choros, there is a white sand beach with gentle slopes, crystal clear waters and waves that break a long way from the shore. It ends with a rocky formation, which forms an arch under which the waves pass at high tide. On the northern side of this formation, a cove has formed which fishermen refer to as Herradura de las Ventanas. Very close to this, there is also an islet with a colony of sea lions. Advanced surfers like to surf this beachbreak very early in the morning when there is no wind and, hopefully, a northern swell. This beach has camping facilities and offers a view of the islands and an incomparable sunset. Its distance from the light of the town also makes it a privileged place to view the night sky.102
Diving and underwater fishing: According to the Atacama Region Project for Macrozoning of Preferential Uses of the Coastline, which is currently in the process of obtaining approval, the Chañaral de Aceituno sector has been identified by the Fishermen’s Union as a place for underwater fishing and diving.103
102 OUTDOORS, 2018. Desde el interior hacia la costa de Coquimbo. 103 Gobierno Regional de Atacama, 2016. Zonificación de Usos del Borde Costero, Memoria Explicativa 77
2.4.5. Energy, mining and port projects with approval and under construction Sarco Wind Farm Project104 As of November 2018, this project has completed 80% of construction work.105 It consists of a wind farm with 95 state-of-the-art wind turbines of up to 2.5 MW, a booster substation and a sectional substation as well as aerial and underground electrical networks. Representing an investment of US$500 million by Aela Eólica Sarco SpA, the project aims to generate up to 740 GWh/ year with an installed capacity of 240 MW. It is located on the coastal plains of the Freirina municipal district, an area with great wind potential. The project seeks to contribute to meet growing industrial and household demand for energy. It will reduce emissions of CO2, NOx and SOx from fossil fuels used to generate electricity. It envisages the possible issue of carbon credits on account of its contribution to reducing greenhouse gases through the avoidance of emissions by future planned power plants using fossil fuels. The project will also create temporary and permanent jobs and has indicated that it will give priority to hiring from nearby towns. The project also includes the construction and operation of a transmission line from El Sarco to the Maitencillo substation. The 220 kV double circuit line, which will cross the Vallenar and Freirina municipal districts, will have a length of approximately 65 km, with 191 towers with access tracks, worksite installations and three storage areas. Together these will occupy an area of 55.41 hectares. The company expects to invest US$25 million in this part of the project. This transmission line with allow the project to inject the power produced into the Chile’s Central Interconnected System (SIC). Its design envisages that it could also be used by other wind farms that may be installed in the area. The wind farm and transmission projects obtained environmental approval in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Photograph Carlos Cuervas - Fundación Melimoyu 78
104 Sistema de Evaluación Ambiental. Ficha Parque Eolico Sarco. 105 Parque Eólico Sarco, 2018. http://www.parqueeolicosarco.cl
Cruz Grande Port Project
Puquios Mining Project
Representing an estimated investment of US$250 million, this project of Compañía Minera del Pacífico S.A. (CAP) obtained environmental approval in 2017. It consists of a port in the La Higuera municipal district, capable of handling bulk carriers of up to 300,000 DWT. Its initial purpose is to receive, store and ship bulk mineral for the El Tofo Project and, eventually, other interested mining projects. It forms part of the development strategy of CAP Minería and consists in a new mining activity, based on the mining and processing of iron ore from one or more deposits, located near the boundary between the Atacama and Coquimbo Regions.
This project of Cuprum Resources represents an estimated investment of US$110 million and will use open-pit mining and bacterial leaching to produce copper cathodes from a deposit on the Las Pascualas mining property in the La Higuera municipal district. It expects to produce 15,000 tons of copper cathodes per year over a useful life of 15 years.107
The Cruz Grande port would be able to ship of 13.5 million tons of bulk mineral per year, handling 75 bulk carriers or, in other words, between six and seven ships a month, with an average capacity of 180,000 tons.
It will also require an aqueduct from the Los Choros Creek, 42 km from the mine. It will withdraw 20 l/s from the creek, affecting the water available downstream with unknown consequences for people and the ecosystem.
As well as construction of the pit and roads, the project includes crushing, leaching, electrowinning, sinter and solvent extraction plants.
It would be located in the town of Chungungo in the La Higuera municipal district on a bay that has been the site of a port for the shipment of iron ore since the beginning of the twentieth century.106 Given that it would be only 20 km from the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, the project envisages a shipping exclusion area with a radius of 20 km around the Choros and Damas Islands and a navigation route that passes outside this area. It also includes a navigation speed of 10 knots so as to guard against collisions with larger cetaceans. The project’s environmental evaluation process has been the subject of some administrative and legal controversy. The community presented a number of observations about the project and its measures. Following its environmental approval, the La Higuera Movement in Defense of the Environment (MODEMA) and an individual, Johannes Jacobus Hendrikus Van Dijk, appealed to the Committee of Ministers against the project’s Environmental Approval Resolution (RCA), arguing that it had not given due consideration to the citizen observations. The Committee partially accepted the appeal. The complainants, dissatisfied with the result, appealed to the Second Environmental Court against the Committee of Ministers. However, the Court unanimously rejected the appeal, ruling that due consideration had been given to the citizen observations. The complainants then appealed to the Supreme Court which also rejected the appeal. As a result the project’s RCA remains in force.
106 Sistema de Evaluación Ambiental (SEA). Ficha del Proyecto Puerto Cruz Grande. 107 Sistema de Evaluación Ambiental (SEA). Ficha del Proyecto Puquios. 79
2.4.6. Mining and road projects under evaluation and other future projects Andes Iron – Dominga Project Andes Iron would invest US$2,500 million in this mining and port project. The iron ore deposit is located in the La Higuera municipal district and the project involves mining of the ore through to shipment of iron concentrate, with copper as a by-product. The mine will have two pits and the iron ore will be processed using magnetic concentration while copper will be recovered using flotation . The project comprises three sectors: Dominga, where mine pits, waste rock dumps, thickened tailings dam and processing plants will be located; Totoralillo, where the port facilities and desalination plant will be located;108 and Lineal, with the ducts connecting the other two sectors. The project has an estimated useful life of 26.5 years.
In addition, ships providing services to the project would change their ballast water outside Chile’s territorial waters (12 nautical miles) and their arrivals and departures would be limited to between four and six per month. In order to avoid collisions with large cetaceans, their maximum speed between Coquimbo and Totoralillo would be 10 knots (18 km/h). Ships leaving from Totoralillo Norte would go straight out to the high seas. In addition, in order to avoid affecting the waters of the Totoralillo Norte Bay, the iron concentrate would be transported to the ship on enclosed conveyor belts and loaded into the hold using a mobile loader. Seawater for the desalination plant would be withdrawn using gravity, rather than suction, and brine would be returned to the sea using a dispersion system, permitting its dilution in a radius of approximately 5 meters around the pipes. The brine would not contain chemical products and would be at the same temperature as the water withdrawn.
Binational Agua Negra Tunnel Project
The process of obtaining the project’s environmental approval has proved difficult. Following its rejection by the Regional Commission, the company appealed to the Committee of Ministers since some members of the Commission had voted, without due grounds, against the technical recommendation to approve the project. However, the Committee of Ministers ratified the project’s rejection, backing the Commission’s decision. The company then appealed to the First Environmental Court of Antofagasta, requesting a review of both procedures. At the end of April 2018, the Court ruled that the process must go back to the last duly implemented stage or, in other words, the issue of the Consolidated Evaluation Report, the stage immediately prior to the vote of the Regional Commission. Third parties subsequently appealed against this ruling to the Supreme Court. In parallel, the same third parties presented an appeal of inapplicability to the Constitutional Tribunal, which was rejected. The current status of the case in the Supreme Court is "in agreement" and its ruling is being is being drafted.
On 28 August 2009 at a UNASUR Presidential Summit in San Carlos de Bariloche, the project received a political boost when presidents Cristina Fernández, Michelle Bachelet and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed a memorandum of understanding on its construction.
The company has proposed a number of mitigation and compensation measures for the impacts on the marine environment which it declared in the project’s Environmental Evaluation Study. They include shipping exclusion areas, designed specifically to avoid impacts on the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, the Choros-Damas Islands Marine Reserve, the Pájaros Islets and the sea between islets and the coast.
IIRSA has identified ten Integration and Development Axes (EIDs) throughout South America. These are axes across countries with important natural areas, areas of economic importance, human settlements and trade flows. Based on this, the initiative has proposed ideas for megaprojects that include the construction of roads, railways and airports as well as large-scale tunnels, such as the Agua Negra Tunnel, in the area of influence of the Mercosur trade group.
108 Sistema de Evaluación Ambiental (SEA). Ficha del Proyecto Dominga. 109 UNASUR, 2018. COSIPLAN. Ficha Proyecto Túnel Binacional Agua Negra. 80
The Agua Negra Tunnel is a road project to link Argentine’s San Juan Province with the Coquimbo Region through two tunnels near the Agua Negra border crossing. The tunnel would form part of a bi-oceanic corridor from the Brazilian coast through central Argentina to a port in central northern Chile.109
This megaproject is part of the Initiative for the Integration of South American Regional Infrastructure (IIRSA). Formed in 2000, IIRSA brings together the 12 countries that make up the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) for the “planning and development of projects for the improvement of regional transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure”.
2.4.7. Protected Natural Areas Within the area of influence of the proposed protected area, there are already three protected natural areas: the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve; the interregional area formed by Isla Chañaral in the Atacama Region and Choros and Damas Islands in the Coquimbo Region; and the Choros-Damas and Chañaral Islands Marine Reserves. National Reserves are defined as "areas whose natural resources need to be conserved and used with special care because of their susceptibility to degradation or because of their importance in protecting the wellbeing of the community. Their objective is the conservation and protection of the land resource and threatened species of wild flora and fauna, the maintenance or improvement of water production and the application of technologies for their rational use.”110 Marine Reserves are defined as “areas of protection of hydrobiological resources in order to protect breeding areas, fishing grounds and areas of repopulation through management. These areas will be under the tuition of the National Fishing and Aquaculture Service and extractive activities may be carried out in them only for transitory periods following a wellfounded resolution of the Undersecretariat for Fisheries and Aquaculture.” 111
Humboldt Penguin National Reserve This Reserve was created on 3 January 1990 under Supreme Decree (DS) N° 265367/1990, issued by the Mining Ministry, with the core objective of conserving the fauna, vegetation and landscapes represented there, including particularly the Humboldt penguin. The Reserve has an area of 859.3 hectares and comprises the Damas Island (60.3 hectares), the Choros Island (291.7 hectares) and the Chañaral Island (507.3 hectares). The most important species of flora are the Echinopsis coquimbana, Copiapoa coquimbana, Balbisia peduncularis, Hordeum murinum, Calandrinia grandiflora, Neoporteria subgibbosa and Echinopsis sp. while the most characteristic birds, in addition to the Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti), include the Peruvian diving petrel (Pelecanoides garnotii), Peruvian booby (Sula variegata), black-faced ibis (Theristicus melanopis), Chilean seaside cinclodes (Cinclodes nigrofumosus), South American tern (Sterna hirundinacea), kelp gull (Larus dominicanus), Guanay cormorant (Leucocarbo bougainvillii) and olivaceous cormorant (Phalacrocorax olivaceus). The mammals include the South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens) and the marine otter (Lontra felina). 110 CONAF, 2018. Definiciones. http://www.conaf.cl/parques-nacionales/parques-de-chile 111 SERNAPESCA, 2018. Definiciones http://ww2.sernapesca.cl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1733&Itemid=1119
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu
In recent years, the number of visitors to the Reserve has increased and currently reaches some 17,000 a year. The reasons that led to its protection include principally: a. It is the habitat of numerous emblematic species with conservation status. b. It is an area of repeated upwellings. c. It has important densities and retention and recruitment rates of species with economic importance. d. It has the highest fishing catches in the Coquimbo Region.112 e. It is a very attractive area for tourism and, particularly, special interest tourism. f. The local inhabitants obtain part of their income from tourism activities in the Reserve. g. It is in an area where there has been relatively little intervention and there are few urban centers nearby.
Chañaral Island Marine Reserve Created on 11 July 2005 by Supreme Decree (DS) N° 150, issued by the Ministry of Economy, Economic Development and Reconstruction, the Chañaral Island Marine Reserve consists of the sea within 1 nautical mile (1,852 m) around the coastal 112 Gaymer et al., 2007. 82
perimeter of the Chañaral Island in the Atacama Region. In Article 2 of the Decree, the Undersecretariat for Fisheries declared that the aim of this Reserve is “to conserve and protect the marine environments representative of Chañaral Island, ensuring the balance and continuity of bio-ecological processes through management and sustainable use of the biodiversity and natural heritage”. The Decree stipulated an area of 2,894 hectares but, in 2011, the Reserve’s boundaries were redefined to give it a polygonal shape that facilitates control of the activities carried out there and in the surrounding area. Fishing Research Project (FIP) Project 2008-56 for "Economic evaluation of the environmental assets present in the network of Marine Reserves decreed in the country under the General Fisheries and Aquaculture Law”, carried out by the University of Concepción, identified five environmental attributes of the Reserve: 1. Habitat of species such as the Humboldt penguin, marine otter, common sea lion and bottlenose dolphin as well as a feeding and nesting area for birds such as the Peruvian diving petrel, olivaceous cormorant, red-legged cormorant and Peruvian booby; 2. Special interest tourism; 3. Area abundant in hydrobiological species with economic value such as the abalone; 4. Reproduction areas of algae fields (several species) and associated species; 5. Scientific research.
Choros-Damas Islands Marine Reserve Under Supreme Decree (DS) N° 151, issued on 11 July 2005 by the Ministry of Economy, Economic Development and Reconstruction, the area around the Damas and Choros Islands in the Coquimbo Region was declared a Marine Reserve. It corresponds to the water column, seabed and rocks contained in the polygon formed by circular projection of a line with a radius of 1 nautical mile from the coastline, giving an area of 3,863 hectares. The management area referred to as Choros Island is not included in the Reserve. In 2011, its boundaries were redefined to give it a polygonal shape that facilitates control of the activities carried out there and in the surrounding area. The main objective of this Reserve is “to conserve and protect the marine environments representative of the insular system formed by the Choros and Damas Islands, ensuring the balance and continuity of bio-ecological processes through management and sustainable use of the biodiversity and natural heritage.” Choros Island is considered an area of great importance for the abalone (Concholepas concholepas) and limpets (Fissurella spp.) gathered by divers from Coquimbo, Los Hornos, Chungungo and other fishing towns and villages. This is the case because the preexisting AMERBs were respected and excluded from the Reserve. One of the objectives of these marine reserves was to protect the parental stock of the abalone resource (the community’s main source of income) on Choros Island. This would ensure the export of larvae to new seeding grounds and/or regulated exploitation in neighboring management areas, generating a significant increase in the recruitment of these populations.113 Fishing Research Fund (FIP) Project 2008-56 on “Economic evaluation of the environmental assets present in the network of Marine Reserves decreed in the country under the General Fisheries and Aquaculture Law”, carried out by the University of Concepción, identified the following environmental attributes of this Reserve: 1. Recreational use of the beaches of Damas Island and diving areas; 2. Scientific research and environmental education; conservation of populations (area of growth of benthic resources); 3. Nesting and feeding area for different bird species;
Marine Protected Areas in the Central Chilean Ecoregion N° 1
MARINE PROTECTED AREA Islote Pájaros Niños de Algarrobo
DATE OF CREATION
Nature Sanctuary 2
Isla Cachagua Natural Monument
Peñablanca de Algarrobo
Nature Sanctuary 4
Roca Oceánica de Concón Nature Sanctuary
Isla Grande de Atacama Multi-Use Coastal Marine Protected Area (MU-CMPA)
Isla Chañaral Marine Reserve
Islas Choros y Damas Marine Reserve
Las Cruces Multi-Use Coastal Marine
4. Breeding ground and habitat of species such as the bottlenose dolphin, common sea lion and marine otter;
Protected Area (MU-CMPA)
5. Area for whale watching for tourism and scientific purposes.
113 Plan de Desarrollo Comunal 2014-2017 de la Comuna de La Higuera.
10,622 Compiled by Fundación Melimoyu 83
Current Zoning of the Coast, Coquimbo Region USE
Management Areas for the Exploitation of Benthic Resources (AMERBs)
El Apolillado Sector Punta de Choros Sector (around Isla Gaviota) Choros B Sector Choreaderos Sector Chungungo A Sector Chungungo B Sector Chungungo C Sector Chungungo D Sector Chungungo E Sector Totoralillo Norte A Sector Totoralillo Norte B Sector Totoralillo Norte C Sector Los Hornos Sector Los Hornos B Sector
Artisan fishing bays
Apolillado San Agustín Los Corrales Choreadero Chungungo Totoralillo Norte Hornos
Inoffensive industrial use
Southern Sector of Punta de Choros Totoralillo Norte Beach Sector
Marine Protected Areas
Insular system, Punta de Choros Sector
Around Choros and Damas Islands
Humboldt Penguin National Reserve
Inoffensive industrial use
Southern sector of Punta de Choros Totoralillo Norte Beach Sector
Punta de Choros Sector, up to Caleta Choreadero Chungungo island Tilgo Island Pájaros Islets Los Farellones Islets
Choros Beach Sector Damas Island Sector Gaviota Island Sector Choros Bay Chungungo Beach Sector Totoralillo Norte Beach Sector Cruz Grande Sector Temblador Beach Sector Los Hornos Beach Sector
Los Choros Sector
Southern Sector of Los Choros Beach (archaeological remains)
Risk due to gorges
Los Choros Sector
Suitable for aquaculture
Various coastal sectors close to Chungungo and Punta de Choros, used for mussel farming.
Modification by Regional Commission on use of the Coast (CRUBC), 2005 - Compiled by Fundación Melimoyu 84
2.4.8. Coastal Marine Areas of Indigenous Peoples (ECMPOs) The ECMPOs are marine spaces administered by indigenous communities or associations of indigenous communities who have customarily used the area as verified by the National Corporation for Indigenous Development (CONADI). In the proposed area of this project, there is one potential ECMPO, corresponding to the coastal area of the main bay of Punta Las Tetillas in the Freirina municipal district.114 A request for the declaration of an ECMPO, with an area of 87.7 hectares, was submitted by the Tierra y Mar Diaguita Indigenous Community in July 2017. In its request, the community cited its need to carry out fishing activities, collect shellfish, collect, cultivate and repopulate algae and practice aquaculture as well as to protect the area’s natural resources and marine life. The area would also serve as a space for expression of the community’s traditional cultural activities. The request is currently being processed by the Undersecretariat for Fisheries (SUBPESCA)115 and is at the stage of consultation with other government agencies and institutions. The Atacama and Coquimbo Regions have a macrozoning and microzoning plan for the coastal area (at the municipal level), established by the respective Regional Commission on Use of the Coast (CRUBC).
2.4.9. Underwater archaeological heritage In the proposed protected area, there is a shipwreck considered particularly valuable from the archaeological standpoint. It corresponds to the remains of the Itata Steamship, which sank in 1922. The Itata set sail from Coquimbo to Antofagasta on 28 August 1922, with a heavy cargo and 400 people on board, including passengers and crew. When 15 km from the coast, between Caleta Chungungo and Punta de Choros, it was hit by a heavy storm and, in one of the worst accidents of its type in Chilean history, 374 people lost their lives.116 114 SUBPESCA. 2018. ECMPO. http://www.subpesca.cl/portal/616/w3-propertyvalue-50834.html 115 SUBPESCA. 2018. Solicitudes, ECMPO http://www.subpesca.cl/portal/616/w3-article-97883.html 116 La Tercera, 2017. «Investigadores encuentran los restos del “Titanic chileno”». 9 November .2017. www.latercera. com.
After several years of research, the Catholic University of the North (UCN) and the Oceana NGO117, with the support of the Chilean Navy, found the wreck in 2017. It is located at a depth of 200 m on the coast of La Higuera off Cruz Grande.118 The wrecked ship is protected under Law N° 17288 on National Monuments and Exempt Decree N° 311, issued in 1999 by the Education Ministry. The latter declared as Historical Monuments “all traces of human existence that have been on the bottom of rivers or lakes or the seabed under Chile’s Interior and Territorial Waters for more than 50 years”.119
2.4.10. Current zoning of the coast The Carrizalillo sector of the Freirina municipal district, opposite the Chañaral Island in the Atacama Region, is considered a priority site for the conservation of biodiversity at the regional level.120 The area between Chañaral de Aceituno and Carrizalillo, from approximately Cabo Leones to the boundary with the Coquimbo Region, has been declared a Marine Zone of Ecological Importance. There is also a Marine Zone of Tourism Importance formed by two sectors around Punta Rancagua. The Intermunicipal Zoning Plan (PRI) for the Elqui Province,121 which has been under discussion since 2014, would assign uses to the territory in line with its economic growth as forecast by the country’s economic authorities. It defines the coast of La Higuera and, specifically, the Barrancones, Cruz Grande and Totoralillo Norte Bays as potential locations for ports.122 The PRI, including all the modifications approved by the Regional Council (CORE) in 2018, has completed the administrative process of approval by the Office of the General Comptroller of the Republic and only its publication in the Diario Oficial (Official Gazette) is now required before it comes into force.123
117 UCN, 2017. Noticias. http://www.noticias.ucn.cl/noticias/internacional/expedicion-de-ucn-y-oceana-encuentra-los-restos-del-titanic-chileno-frente-a-las-costas-de-la-higuera/ 118 Armada de Chile, 2019. 119 Education Ministry, 1999. Decreto exento. 311. 120 ULS, 2008. Squeo et al. Chapter.3. Flora Amenazada de la Región de Atacama. 121 SERMINVU, Coquimbo 2018. https://docplayer.es/48092798-Plan-regulador-intercomunal.html 122 CRUBC, 2005. Memoria Explicativa de la zonificación de usos del borde costero de Coquimbo. 123 Diario la Región, 2018. http://www.diariolaregion.cl/portal/?p=53526. 85
3. GENERAL MANAGEMENT PLAN
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 88
This proposal envisages the protection of an area that is a critical habitat for the Humboldt penguin and other target conservation species such as the Peruvian diving petrel, the marine otter and at least 23 species of cetaceans that visit the area such as right whales, rorquals, sperm whales, beaked whales, dolphins and porpoises. The area has synergic conditions that permit the feeding, colonization and reproduction of these species. All the species with conservation status, which inhabit the proposed protected area, are directly or indirectly threatened by human activities, including fishing. The importance of their conservation has to do with the fact that they are indicators of the health of the ecosystem as well as being an attractive attribute of the territory that prompts both local and international interest. At present, the area is insufficiently protected in that it fails to guarantee the basic requirements of the target conservation species. For example, the feeding or foraging area of the species that is in the most critical condition is larger than the protected area. Industrial and artisanal fishing compete for resources that are also consumed by the target conservation species, limiting the availability of food and playing a decisive role in the decline of populations that are clearly already in a situation of systemic vulnerability due to climate changes. In addition, fishing also implies the risk of their incidental capture with fatal consequences. Tourism, shipping and the development of the coast are also insufficiently regulated, poising a potential threat to both the specimens themselves and their nesting grounds.
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 90
3.1.1. Zoning criteria Criterion N° 1: Existing protected areas This criterion involves verifying the sites involved and their area and current level of protection. They are: 1) Chañaral Island, 29º01'S-71º37'W, with an area of 507.3 hectares; 2) Damas Island, 29º13’S-71º32’W, with an area of 60.3 hectares; 3) Choros Island, 29º15’S-71º33’W, with an area of 291.7 hectares; 4) Pájaros Islets, 20 nautical miles south of Choros Island, without protection: • Pájaros Islet 1, with an area of 71.6 hectares; • Pájaros Islet 2, with an area of 152 hectares. Since 1990, the Chañaral, Choros and Damas Islands, totaling 859 hectares of land, have formed the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve and are administered by the National Forest Service (CONAF). This Reserve has some of the largest nesting colonies of Humboldt penguins in the world1 and its conservation should, therefore, have a net positive impact on the global population. Many of the target conservation species such as the penguin, the Peruvian diving petrel, the bottlenose dolphin and the cetaceans in general spend their life cycle in the sea. It was in view of the wealth of species and their abundance as well as the need to protect the potential of the local marine resources on which these species depend that the Chañaral and Choros-Damas Islands Marine Reserves were created in 2005. Following the modification of their boundaries in 2010, the former has an area of 3,841 hectares and the latter of 5,317 hectares. In both cases, the Management Areas for the Exploitation of Benthic Resources (AMERBs) were excluded even though they would not have been negatively affected by management of the Reserves.
Criterion N° 2: Availability of food Since the availability of food for the target conservation species depends on the ecosystem’s productivity, the second zoning criterion calls for analysis of the variables determining its productivity. The area has a relief (Map N° 1) that permits the recurrence of upwellings as well as the retention of nutrients in the area. The upwellings favor the outstanding primary and secondary biotic production that sustains the ecosystem. In this area of heterogeneous relief, the El Toro Shallow sector to the south of Choros Island is particularly important because it produces demersal conditions (near the bottom) that are particularly rich and diverse.2 Maps N° 2 and N° 3 show the area’s primary productivity for which the indicator used in this proposal is the abundance of “a”-chlorophyll. The areas with the highest productivity, shown in yellow, stand out. Although the intensity of productivity and its precise location vary over time, its main location changes little over the years. The species that serve as the basis of the trophic chain are concentrated consistently in the area, sharing the space. Map N° 4 shows the areas where phytoplankton and zooplankton (Plate I), the different species of krill and crustaceans (Plate II) and the anchovy recruits and other pelagic fish (Plate III) lives. These correspond to the main food groups of the protected species. These conditions, which allow both the penguin colonies and Peruvian diving petrels to remain in the area and major and minor cetaceans to remain in it or visit it frequently, also produce the conditions of abundance enjoyed by the industrial and artisan fishing sectors. This overlap in space and time between fishing and the foraging of the area’s species is currently the main threat to the target conservation species, due to both competition for forage resources and by entrapment in fishing equipment.
Criterion N° 3: Habitat of the target conservation species Map N° 5 shows the most common nesting and/or breeding grounds of the Humboldt penguin, Peruvian diving petrel, bottlenose dolphin (coastal ecotype) and marine otter. The nesting, breeding and post-molting stages are the most critical ones in the life cycle of the Humboldt penguin. In this period, most of its foraging activity is limited to within
1 Simeone, 2018. 2 Yáñez et al., 2008 91
5 nautical miles of the colony (Plate I).3 The most important Chilean colonies are in the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve and on the Pájaros Islets.4 The nesting grounds on the Pájaros Islets are threatened by the presence of the black rat (Rattus rattus), an invasive alien species (IAS), which attacks the penguins’ eggs. This colony is important within the penguin population system5 and the threat highlights the need to protect these islets and control the rat population. This area has Chile’s only population of coastal ecotype bottlenose dolphins. This subspecies has particular characteristics that make it an Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) that requires differentiated management. Plate I of Map N° 5 shows the range of movement of these dolphins along the coast. They are found mostly around the Choros and Damas Islands but feed across the area’s entire system of bays and islands, from the Chañaral Island to the Pájaros Islets. The latter also serve as a place of refuge from the pressure of tourism and other types of stress.6
This is also the case of the fin whale which has been observed feeding on krill in the waters close to Choros Island and Chañaral Island on its way to and from the north.7 The blue whale, the largest rorqual, has a similar behavior but has been observed less frequently. It is also possible to see smaller rorquals such as Bryde’s whale or the Minke whale, which prefer to feed on pelagic fish8 and, depending on the availability of food, could stay longer in the area. The humpback whale has also been observed on its way to and from its breeding grounds. This is an important species internationally that feeds principally on pelagic fish and, to a lesser extent, krill.9 It is less common but is an important predator and its presence highlights the sector’s richness.
In the past, this subspecies was hunted by fishermen. As well as reducing their numbers, this also caused them to move away from their original habitat around the Chañaral Island to which, however, they frequently return.
Killer whales and false killer whales tend to hunt in areas to the southeast of the larger islands where sea lions, their usual prey, are most common. Sperm whales and beaked whales prefer to forage in deep areas around contour 500, particularly to the southwest of Chañaral Island, between Punta Rancagua and Chañaral Island, to the west of Choros Island and Damas Island and in the Bajo El Toro sector. They are also frequently seen around the Pájaros Islets.10 These species prefer to feed on cephalopods, which they hunt in the area at demersal depths.
The Peruvian diving petrel nests exclusively on the Chañaral Island, the Choros Island and the Pájaros 2 Islet (Plate II). It uses a wider part of the marine area than the penguin simply because it can fly. However, it is frequently seen around the islands and close to the coast.
Female cetaceans can feed their young more easily in the northeastern parts of the island system, a leeward area protected from waves from the southwest. They tend to move between the islands following contour 120.
The sea otter is found all along the intertidal coast of the mainland and the larger islands (Plate II), making conservation of the coast essential for its protection. A lack of regulation of real estate development and economic activities on the coast is the main cause of loss of its habitat. In addition, it is exposed to interaction with dogs and cats as a result of which it can be killed or catch diseases.
Finally, the islands and the surrounding waters are the habitat of two species of sea lion, including the fur seal, which is only rarely sighted on the coast. There are also several species of birds, such as the red-legged cormorant and others described above.
Local conditions are particularly favorable for frequent visits by cetaceans and some 23 species of dolphins and whales have been observed around the main islands. Because of its abundance of krill and pelagic fish, the area is an important resting place for whales on their way north from their breeding grounds in Antarctica and back. 3 Culik et al., 1998. 4 Simeone, 2018. 5 Simeone, 2018. 6 Constantine, 2000. 7 Pérez et al., 2006. 8 Tershy et al., 1993. 9 Witteveen et al., 2006. 10 Sanino and Fowle, 2006. 92
Criterion N° 4: Threats The principal environmental causes of stress for the target conservation species are, in descending order: • Interannual environmental variations; • Overfishing of the species on which they feed; • Incidental fishing; • Use of inappropriate fishing methods; • Deficient regulation of wildlife tourism; • Loss of habitat due to unregulated development on the coast and the introduction of exotic species; • Risks related to unregulated shipping traffic.
Interannual environmental regime variations Climatic conditions and variations are related to a marked increase in the irregularity of the ENSO phenomenon. El Niño causes the entry of warm surface waters and a weakening of the upwelling phenomenon and there is a decrease in the amount of plankton whose biomass of diatoms and phytoplankton (chlorophyll) is the main food of the anchovy which is, in turn, the main food of the target conservation species. This loss of regularity of ENSO as regards its frequency, duration and intensity is a complex, multifactorial process. The effects on the anchovy population vary over time and it is difficult to determine when they become critical for the target conservation species. Stress generated by a lack of food is known to affect size of anchovy at maturity, the spawning mass and the distribution of shoals.11,12,13 Another important effect is that the shoals of anchovy go down to depths of more than 50 meters14, following the thermoclines and oxyclines appropriate for their metabolism. Alternatively, they move away from the coast, following the chlorophyll out to sea. It is important to note that the behavior of ENSO is non-linear. Its cycles used to be measured in decades (decadal fluctuation) but now appear to be increasing in frequency
11 12 13 14
Hernández-Santoro, et al., 2018. Sielfeld et al. 2010. Claramunt, 2018. Aedo et al., 2018.
and/or becoming shorter.15 As a result, the volume of forage species can vary from one year to the next. Climate change also implies unregulated variation of these phenomena and the models used to predict stock, which include climatic variables, will probably lose precision and accuracy. These variations in climate could have negative effects on the populations of species such as the penguin and the Peruvian diving petrel.16 It would, therefore, be important to take them into account when calculating the acceptable biological catch (ABC) of forage species.
Effects of the fishing industry There has been heavy fishing of demersal crustaceans and pelagic ichthyofauna in the area around the Pájaros Islets (Map N° 6). Crustaceans are caught mainly by trawling and pelagic fish using seine fishing. Both have an impact on the forage of the target conservation species. Data from DIRECTEMAR for 2013 indicates that, out of 120 industrial and artisanal fishing vessels in the area, 40% practiced trawling and 35% seine fishing while the others were not classified (21%) or corresponded to line fishing (2.5%) or factory boats (less than 1%). In response to overfishing and, in the case of the Spanish sardine, exhaustion of the resource, the Undersecretariat for Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA) has implemented a system of acceptable biological catches (ABC) in order to ensure that fisheries are operating with a maximum sustainable yield (MSY). As of 2018, an ABC of between 34,000 and 40,000 tons had been established for the anchovy in the Atacama and Coquimbo Regions.17 Currently, the ABC permits the renewal of fishing resources but only from the perspective of the industry, without taking into account environmental criteria related to the needs of the target conservation species. This makes for a critical situation at times of high environmental variability, such as episodes of El Niño, which can reduce or damage the productivity of ecosystems18 and, therefore, threaten the ongoing presence, nesting and survival of the species. It is important to note that SUBPESCA and the National Fishing Service (SERNAPESCA), which has tuition over the area’s marine reserves, authorized the industrial fishing sector 15 Newman et al., 2016. 16 Simeone, 2002. 17 SUBPESCA, 2017. Determinación del estado de situación y rango de captura biológicamente aceptable de recursos pelágicos pequeños. 18 Trathan et al. 2014. 93
to operate within the 5-mile area reserved for artisanal fishing on the edge of the ChorosDamas Islands Marine Reserve19 (Map N° 6) during a period of five years as from the end of 2014 and, in these areas, trawling for demersal crustaceans, prawns and shrimps is permitted. The proximity of these activities to the marine reserves does not take into account the minimum foraging areas required by the penguin and cetaceans, subjecting the species to a pressure that exacerbates their condition of vulnerability. Moreover, it implies the use of fishing methods that are at odds with the protection of marine resources in general. Out of the methods that have been authorized, bottom trawling is the least selective and most destructive. It results in incidental fishing20 and, due to its mechanical effect on the seabed, disturbs and destroys algal forests, banks of mollusks, coral and cold-water sponges. In addition, destabilized bottom sediments can slide to deeper parts of the seabed, affecting larval habitats and burying sedimentary communities.21 In other words, trawling has consequences throughout the food chain because, by altering larval production on the seabed, it affects the amount and diversity of the plankton22 that provides food for pelagic fish. Excessive fishing of crustaceans can also affect the food chain of dolphins and sperm whales23 since they like to feed on squid which, in turn, feeds on crustaceans.24 Efforts to improve the design of trawler nets have been successful in reducing the boats’ fuel consumption25 but have not reduced the incidental catch and have only been moderately successful in terms of selecting crustaceans by size. Similarly, the seine fishing industrial and semi-industrial fleet extracts large volumes of resources and operates very close to the Choros-Damas Island Marine Reserve (Map N° 6) and around Pájaros Islets, reducing the availability of food for the target conservation species. Incidental capture poses an additional threat. Data from Chile’s Institute for the Promotion of Fishing (IFOP)26 for 2016 shows the incidental catch from the industrial and artisanal pelagic fishing fleet between the Valparaíso and Los Lagos Regions shows that 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 94
SUBPESCA, 2014. Resolución Exenta 2420/2014. Martínez and Morales, 2012. Tillin et al., 2006. Orensanz et al., 1998. Smith and Whitehead, 2000. Bazzino et al., 2010. Queirolo et al., 2017. SUBPESCA, 2017.
about 10% of the incidental catch corresponded to coastal birds of which approximately 2% were Humboldt penguins. For penguins, mortality reached 41% and, for other birds like petrels, 100%. The greater diversity of the incidental capture of birds corresponds to the respective breeding season of the species involved. Given that it is the ship owners who report these catches, it is possible that the data represents an underestimate.27 For the Atacama and Coquimbo Regions, research is ongoing and the incidental catch has not yet been quantified. In the Valparaíso Region, 605 penguin deaths were reported between 1991 and 1996.28 It has been reported that drift nets, which are not visible, cause more penguin deaths than fixed nets. They are superficial and are left at night and at depths of up to 30 meters in areas where penguins forage. During the breeding season, the death of a penguin also means the death of the young as a result of lack of food and this should also be taken into account when calculating indicators of incidental capture.29 In the case of dolphins, their incidental capture accounts for 6% of the total catch in the Tarapacá and Antofagasta Regions.30 However, this depends on the catch volume because its weight squashes the dolphin when the net is hauled in. As discussed in Section 2.2.2., recent research by Simeone (2018) on the total number of active Humboldt penguin nests in Chile indicates that the population is declining. If this is correct, it would be the result of several synergic factors including interannual climatic variations with the resulting reduction in food availability and change in the habits of anchovy shoals, competition for resources with the fishing industry and incidental capture. Studies in other parts of the world have shown how a reduction in the availability of food affects penguin populations. For example, 70% of the nesting population of African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) was negatively affected by a scarcity of sardines. The fact that they moved away from the penguin colonies further aggravated the impact on their nesting.31 Around the world, there has been a decline in the population of smaller cetaceans, due principally to competition for food with the fishing industry, incidental capture, shipping
27 28 29 30 31
SUBPESCA, 2017. Plan de reducción de descarte y captura de pesca incidental. Simeone et al., 1999. SUBPESCA, 2017. González and Sepúlveda, 2016. Crawford et al., 2011.
traffic, climate change and emerging illnesses related to environmental deterioration.32 The proposed protected area is no exception to this trend. The local coastal ecotype bottlenose dolphin population, which numbers only some 30 individuals,33 illustrates the degree of vulnerability that can be found in a protected species. These dolphins feed on demersal fish like hake as well as various coastal rockfish and cephalopods.34 As a result, trawling poses a threat in terms of the availability of food while, with seine fishing, there is a risk of incidental capture. There have also reportedly been instances of swordfish boats illegally hunting bottlenose dolphins. For such a small population, the loss of one individual is significant. Oceanic ecotype bottlenose dolphins feed only on cephalopods and pelagic fish like anchovy and jack mackerel. They can also be affected by fishing but have the advantage that, unlike the coastal ecotype, they can move to other areas. Competition for resources is also an important concern in the case of humpback whales. Over 60% of their diet corresponds to different species of pelagic fish. It has, for example, been shown in Alaska that, over one season in a population of 157 humpback whales, each individual consumed a daily average of 350 kg of pelagic fish and euphausiids, giving total foraging of 8,000 tons. This is comparable to the amount fished by a small artisanal fleet.35 Odontoceti like sperm whales, beaked whales and other deep-sea predators are also indirectly affected by the use of inappropriate fishing methods or excessive fishing through the impact on demersal fish and crustaceans. In the specific case of fertile female crustaceans36 captured by trawlers, there is the corresponding effect on larval production. These whales feed principally on cephalopods - that is, squid and jumbo squid - which, in turn, depend on crustaceans and demersal fish. In other words, the hypothesis that fishing affects the populations of the target conservation species is plausible and indicates a need for ongoing research into the area’s nesting bird colonies and the local dolphin population.
32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
Tourism Another serious problem affecting the target conservation species is unregulated tourism in the form of boat trips to observe local or migratory cetaceans and visits by tourists and researchers to penguin nesting areas. The lack of application of the protocols for interaction with cetaceans, particularly at Punta de Choros,37 poses a risk of these species developing agonistic behavior and not remaining in the area. In the Choros-Damas Islands Marine Reserve, as many as 30 simultaneous boat trips have been authorized, making it difficult to establish regulation to distribute the boats’ impact. The presence of such a diversity of cetaceans implies enormous potential for tourism. A useful reference is the Valdés Peninsula in Argentina where, for more than 40 years, there has been an important tourist industry with associated services, based on a single species of whale, the Southern Right Whale. The benefits of this reach the country’s capital, Buenos Aires.38 The number of visitors taking boat trips in Puerto Pirámides to observe right whales approximately doubles the total number of visitors to the Humboldt Penguin Reserve. Given this background, tourism in the area of interest is far from reaching its development potential. However, if this potential is to be developed, the whales must remain in the area which, in turn, will depend on the availability of food and rational regulation of tourism. The presence of humans - both tourists and researchers - and the related operational activities alter the natural habitat of the nesting birds and, in particular, the behavior and quality of life of the Humboldt penguin whose sensitivity to the presence of humans leads to stress that has physiological and reproductive consequences.39 This is evident in their reaction to human beings, even in boats.40
Félix, 2012. Atlas de Cetáceos del Pacífico Oriental. Sanino, Personal communication, 2018. Santos et al., 2007. Witteveen et al., 2006. Ibáñez et al., 2008. Sanino and Yáñez, 2000. Península de Valdés, 2018. www.lugaresturisticosdeargentina.com/peninsula-valdes-puerto-madryn-chubut Ellenberg et al. 2006. Oetiker, 2009. 95
Principal Threats to the Humboldt Penguin N°
SOURCES Culik et al., 1998
Interannual environmental regime variations
Frequency or intensity of climatic phenomena like El Niño
Algal blooms (red tide)
Simeone et al., 2002 Hennicke and Culik, 2005 SUBPESCA, 2018 SUBPESCA, 2017
Competition for resources
Industrial and artisanal fishing that extracts unsustainable volumes of the species on which the penguins feed
Trathan et al., 2014 Crawford et al., 2011 Herling et al., 2005 Simeone et al., 2018 Simeone et al., 1999 Majluf et al., 2001
Capture in trawler and seine fishing nets, with fatal consequences
Taylor et al., 2002 Trathan et al., 2014 SUBPESCA, 2017 Simeone et al., 2018
Degradation of terrestrial habitat
Introduction of exotic species
Trathan et al., 2014
Tourism (disturbance by humans and infrastructure)
Simeone and Luna-Jorquera, 2012
Research (disturbance by humans) and use of invasive methods Extraction of guano
Ellenberg et al., 2006
Changes in land use
IUCN, 2008 Compiled by Fundación Melimoyu
Shipping Access to the islands of the proposed protected area is mainly by sea, using boats of different types, with the consequent risks to wildlife and maritime safety. The analysis must take commercial maritime traffic into account (Map N° 7) due to its effects on marine mammals and birds, particularly larger cetaceans. Thousands of ships sail off the coast of Chile each year, on their way to different ports in the Americas, Europe and Asia as well as the Coquimbo and Huasco ports. They pass very close to marine reserves and the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve where, according to the literature, sightings of larger cetaceans such as the fin whale are concentrated.41 In order to rest, whales move away from the coast to avoid the waves and currents that could beach them and may, therefore, find themselves in the most heavily used shipping lanes. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada, for example, it has been estimated that the number of collisions doubles the annual birth rate of the North Atlantic right whale.42 Collisions occur not only with the hull of the ship, but also with protruding elements such as bow bulbs, stabilizers, keels, rudders and exposed propellers. A ship’s speed is key to controlling the risk of a collision and the severity of its effects. The higher the speed the greater the chance of an encounter with wildlife because the ship covers a longer distance per unit of time. Proportionally, the ship also loses its ability to maneuver and, in the event of a collision, releases more energy. A speed limit of 10 knots is the main measure used to mitigate this risk43 and, because it gives the cetaceans time to take evasive action, reduces mortality by between 80% and 90%. Avoiding a collision with marine fauna is in the interest of all the parties since it also has consequences for the vessel. For smaller vessels, it can mean serious damage to their structure and seaworthiness, with the resulting risk to the crew and any passengers. For larger vessels, dragging the carcass increases fuel consumption and can damage the engine. The costs include the need for assistance, port fees, repairs, losses due to inactivity, delays, possible breach of contract and increased insurance premiums.
Finally, there is the risk of oil spills. Around 400 tankers pass through the proposed protected area each year.44 This risk can, however, be minimized if tankers are less than 25 years’ old and have a double hull. Chile has signed international agreements to this effect (MARPOL, 1983).
Degradation of terrestrial habitat The deterioration of the terrestrial habitat of the Humboldt penguin and other nesting species is mainly a result of human disturbance in the form of the collection of guano and visits either for tourism or research. A further factor is the introduction of invasive alien species (IAS) that degrade the vegetation and compete for burrows (for example, rabbits) and can also prey on eggs and chicks or transmit pathogens (for example, rats).45 In an experiment using cooked chicken eggs in two Humboldt penguin colonies, Simeone and Luna-Jorquera (2012) estimated a predation rate of 70% for the black rat (Rattus rattus), with this occurring mostly at night. The absence of preventive protocols and a failure to control and eradicate alien species, as well as a lack of knowledge about their effects on the reproductive success and survival of the Humboldt penguin increase the impact of this threat. Real estate development and economic activities along the coast also pose a threat to local biodiversity and the risk of pollution of the sea, with its effect on pelagic and coastal marine resources.46 Research and constant monitoring would make it possible to combine population data with climatic and oceanographic parameters in order to improve forecasting of the consequences of human activities, particularly fishing and coastal development, and be better placed to design regulation conducive to the ongoing presence and reproduction of the target conservation species.
Engine noise is also a concern that should be taken into account in establishing shipping lanes further from the habitats of the target conservation species. 41 42 43 44 45 46
Toro et al., 2018. Conn and Silber, 2013. Wiley et al., 2011. DIRECTEMAR, 2013, Informe de datos de tránsito de navios en el maritorio de la Higuera. Trathan et al., 2014. IUCN, 2008. List of threatened species. 97
3.1.2. Zoning proposal The zoning proposal presented in this report seeks to address two main problems: 1. The area covered by the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, the Chañaral Island Marine Reserve and the Choros-Damas Islands Marine Reserve excludes important areas of the activities of the species these reserves seek to protect. 2. 2. The way in which these protected areas, established over a decade ago, are currently managed has prevented them from fulfilling the objectives for which they were created. It is, therefore, necessary to increase the protected area by expanding those which already exist and creating new ones and to modernize their environmental management so as to halt their environmental deterioration, achieve the area’s recovery and have a positive effect on human activities. This report proposes a new zoning plan and a set of regulation, which is what ultimately determines the effectiveness of the management of a protected area. The areas proposed are the minimum required to include the critical feeding and breeding habitats of the target conservation species. Protection of these areas is necessary to ensure the abundance and richness of the species present as well as the area’s fishing and tourism potential. This zoning plan includes the coast of the mainland in accordance with the interdependence of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems, the interregional nature of the area (Atacama and Coquimbo Regions) and the need for a comprehensive plan to achieve the stated objectives. In addition, it is designed to distribute the pressure of human activities in the area, catalyze and favor recovery of the most intervened areas and promote a continuation of the process of gathering and analyzing environmental information. The proposal (Map N° 8) consists of: 1. Expansion of the existing Humboldt Penguin National Reserve to include Pájaros Islets, accompanied by integral management of the species that gives the Reserve its name.
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu 98
2. Expansion of the area covered by the Chañaral Island Marine Reserve and the ChorosDamas Islands Marine Reserve to a radius of 5 nautical miles around the islands. This is the minimum required to cover the cetaceans’ and penguins’ immediate foraging area, provide environmental shelter and protect the cetaceans’ nursing period.
3. Creation of a Marine Reserve around Pájaros Islets in line with the use of the sea around them by the Humboldt penguin, the Peruvian diving petrel and the local bottlenose dolphin population. 4. Creation of a Multi-Use Coastal Marine Protected Area (MU-CMPA) covering the sea between Caleta El Sarco in the Atacama Region and Punta Teatinos in the Coquimbo Region, stretching 12 nautical miles from the coast, where it is necessary to regulate fishing and shipping in order to create a buffer zone for the expanded Marine Reserves. 5. Creation of zones for the restoration and protection of the vegetation on the coast of La Higuera and for conservation of the fauna in Llanos de Los Choros and Freirina. The marine protected area corresponds, therefore, to a system of (1) three island units, considering their land area and the adjacent maritime area, with an adequate degree of protection, and (2) the necessary respective buffer zones. Because of its interregional nature and its importance for the country, it requires supervision at the national level. The area’s emblematic species, whether resident, transient or migratory, move among the three island units according to where the environment provides the best forage and shelter and where there is less competition for resources. In this way, the proposed Network of Humboldt Penguin Protected Areas would bring the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve and the three Marine Reserves into a macro MU-CMPA. This management tool would foster continuation of the process of gathering and analyzing environmental information about key areas that have so far been little studied, using the information produced to introduce or adjust measures such as buffer zones and facilitating coordination of the different human activities that take place in the area and the contributions of the different actors or stakeholders. The proposal also takes into account the principles of Integral Management47 which consist in recognizing the sea-land interdependence between the protected marine area and the coastal land area.
Objectives of the zoning plan The general objective is to decelerate and mitigate the process of environmental deterioration and the decline in the population of the Humboldt penguin and other target conservation species.
Fisheries: i. A sustained increase in the recovery of economically important species such as the
anchovy, Chilean nylon shrimp, yellow prawn and red prawn; ii. Management of seaweed collection without interfering with its ecological role,
indirectly facilitating the diversification of local opportunities for the commercial extraction of marine resources; iii. A change to more selective fishing methods that avoid the incidental capture of
non-commercial species and/or species with conservation status; iv. A positive effect of the marine protected area as a “seeding ground” and source of
dispersal of larvae to foster the recovery of depressed fishing resources in nearby areas. Environmental management: i. The start and maintenance of a process of recovery of seabird populations,
particularly the Humboldt penguin and the Peruvian diving petrel; ii. The recovery of the reproduction rate of the coastal ecotype dolphin and control
of its harassment by tourism so that individuals can reach maturity and thus contribute reproductively to their population; iii. The start and maintenance of a process of recovery of the seabed and the
populations affected by several decades of bottom trawling; iv. The start and maintenance of a process of environmental recovery throughout the
local food chain, with the resulting increase in forage for all species; v. The recovery of the reproductive potential of the species (nesting and other
birds) on Pájaros Islets, both in abundance (area occupied) and specific richness, implementing programs that include the eradication of introduced species; vi. The development of an integrated model of management of natural resources
(pelagic, demersal, coastal and terrestrial) that promotes the recovery of local environmental potential to a condition that remains stable over time; vii. Increase in the production, quality and application of environmental information
about the area so as to provide the necessary conditions for long-term research and analysis.
Implementation of the proposal would have the following 25 results: 47 IUCN, 2000. Ecosystem Management. 99
Tourism: i. Landing of cruise passengers in nearby ports like Huasco and Coquimbo,
contributing to the local economy, as an alternative to the current direct approach to sensitive species from the west coast of the islands; ii. Encouragement of low-impact water sports (such as kayaking, sailing, diving and
underwater photography); iii. Recovery of use of the area in conditions of less disturbance and greater security for
the species; iv. Increase or, at least, recovery of the length of the seasonal presence of large
cetaceans (August to April), with the consequent recovery of their role as a natural fertilizer of the marine environment; v. Improvement in the sighting of permanent species, increasing the area’s
attractiveness to visitors from the northern hemisphere (the main market for special interest tourism) as a means of overcoming the seasonal limitations of the local tourist industry and increasing the per visitor contribution to the local economy; vi. Facilitation of the natural process of modernization of vessels, without this implying
an increase in their potentially negative impact; vii. Increase in the wealth of species that can potentially be observed, improving the
quality of visitor experience and, therefore, the value of the associated services; viii. Recovery of the conditions that prevailed in the early 1990s in order to permit the
installation of fixed platforms for wildlife observation at vantage points along the mainland coast as a complement to mobile platforms; ix. Decrease in the rate of agonistic behavior or flight on the part of emblematic
marine fauna (whales, dolphins, sea lions and penguins) when approached; x. Increase in the appeal of local tourist attractions (native terrestrial flora and fauna,
cultural and paleontological heritage) as complements to local marine and island resources in the framework of Integral Management; xi. Incorporation of visitors into local scientific research activities.
Shipping traffic: i. Reduction of the risk of collisions between ships and large cetaceans and a
decrease in noise; ii. Reduction in the rate of injury of smaller cetaceans, penguins and sea lions by
smaller vessels (contact with hull and/or propellers); iii. Increase in local maritime safety. 100
3.1.3. Regulation Fisheries: • Eliminate all other fishing within the 5-mile limit reserved for artisanal fishing in all the marine protected area (MU-CMPA and Marine Reserves); • Prohibit industrial and semi-industrial fishing in the Marine Reserves; • Prohibit benthic and demersal bottom trawling in all the marine protected area; • Immediately replace harmful fishing methods such as bottom trawling with more sustainable and selective methods such as longline and harpoon fishing throughout the marine protected area; • Prohibit for ten years industrial and semi-industrial fishing in the MU-CMPA between August and April, which is the period of greatest productivity, as a means of recovering the populations of the target conservation species and fishing resources; • Review the measures each five years in order to adjust them in line with adaptive management.
Shipping traffic and lanes: • Establish shipping lanes in the proposed protected area taking into account (a) vessels that will be added in future for local projects; (b) the need for areas with limited traffic; and (c) organization of the presence of large vessels in order to prevent collisions with larger cetaceans; • Establish a speed limit of 10 knots in the area in order to strike a balance between speed and time of exposure to the noise made by the vessel; • Permit high-speed boats (>=35 knots) in the MU-CMPA and Marine Reserves only for purposes of inspection by the authorities or assistance or if required for reasons of maritime safety or whose communication (radio/satellite) with the nearest port permits effective monitoring (control of speed); • Allow larger vessels to use only the outer lane (west) in order to reduce the risk of collisions, increase the distance between the source of underwater noise and the target conservation species and reduce disturbance in the area of greatest productivity; they must exclude the whole marine protected area from their route except in the case of an emergency (for example, shelter from a storm, assistance in port or a medical
emergency) and agree routes for access to the coast (for example, between the El Toro Shallow sector and Pájaros Islets and access to the area of Carrizal Bay); • Optimize the space-time distribution of the routes and activities of smaller vessels so as to disperse their impact; • Oblige all vessels to carry, in addition to a VHF radio, at least a satellite device (EPIRB, SPOT or InReach), duly identified with the Maritime Authority of the port closest to the corresponding island unit; • Oblige all vessels that see live cetaceans or carcasses in the sea or any other type of risk to vessels to report it to the nearest port by ISM, satellite message or mobile phone so that the Maritime Authority coordinates this information for the purposes of maritime safety, tourism activities and scientific research, keeping a written or electronic record of these events.
Seaweed collection: Collect only from those units whose fronds overlap with the movement of the swell, seeking also to extract the holdfast so as to make room for the settlement of invertebrates and new algae plants. Seaweed plays a key role in protecting crustacean larvae while they settle on the rocky seabed and in sheltering new algae plants from the waves until they become fixed in place. This proposed measure takes into account the importance of seaweed collection as a source of income for local communities and the existence of management plans to ensure the activity’s sustainability.
Aquaculture: Limit the potential implementation of aquaculture projects in the marine protected area to native species. The accidental or direct introduction of exotic species is one of the most important environment hazards and one of the most difficult to control. For this reason, boats would not be permitted to change their ballast water in the area of influence of the marine protected area.
• Limit the number of boats using a model such that the sum of their lengths, regardless of their type: - does not exceed a total of 40 m in the case of the Chañaral Island Marine Reserve, and - does not exceed a total of 50 m in the case of the Choros-Damas Islands Marine Reserve; • Permit development and modernization of the boats and consider the differing impacts of different vessels; • Establish a speed limit of 4 knots for boats used to approach wildlife (for example, for tourism, scientific research or filming) and an obligation, if the wildlife is moving faster, to allow it to pass without harassing it by accelerating; • Inform visitors about these norms before they board so as to facilitate the work of those in charge of the boat; • Exempt boats carrying out official inspections or providing support in the event of an emergency from these norms.
Marine monitoring: • Assess the size of the population of the principal colonies of Humboldt penguins on Isla Chañaral Choros Island and Pájaros Islets; • Assess the size of the population of the principal nesting sites of the Peruvian diving petrel on Choros Island and Pájaros Islets; • Assess the state of the population of coastal ecotype bottlenose dolphins off Choros Island and record sightings or activities near the other islands; • Monitor the conditions of the colonies of red-legged cormorants and Peruvian boobies on these islands; • Record sightings of other cetaceans in the marine protected area;
Seaborne tourism: • Implement the protocols of Sanino and Yáñez (2000), which were drawn up on the basis of studies in the area and have proved effective for both large cetaceans and cetaceans in general in Patagonia;
• In order to verify compliance with the objectives of this proposal, establish a management plan that includes monitoring of the principal target conservation species.
• Limit the time boat tours are present in the area to a maximum of 40% of the period of daylight so that the wildlife has time to carry out its activities without harassment; 101
Phptograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 110
3.2. PLAN FOR THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF ARTISANAL FISHING
This plan aims to promote the sustainable development of artisanal fisheries through the creation, socialization, application and continuous improvement of techniques for the rational management of fishing and benthic natural resources. The goal is flexible ecosystem planning of the artisanal fishing industry as regards both the capture and processing of seafood products, permitting certification (Quality Assurance Program-PAC, SERNAPESCA) of the Benthic Resource Management Areas involved in the program. The actions envisaged will facilitate the sustained economic development of artisanal fishing by maintaining and, if possible, increasing the populations of the managed species whilst adding value to the resulting products. The techniques to be implemented would ensure care for the resources as such and as providers of ecosystem services. This is especially important in the case of extraction of algae, such as kelp, which is a structuring species of the marine ecosystem. In terms of production, a key factor is to guarantee the cold chain of products, hence the planned construction of a pre-processing plant. By delivering their daily catch to this plant, the artisanal fishermen would be able to avoid losses and dependence on intermediaries who buy fresh fish in the extraction zones. This is a long-standing aspiration of the fishermen and will mean a substantial and sustained improvement in their income and greater job stability. With PAC certification of their products, they will be able to access markets that offer a better return whilst ensuring the protection of natural resources and employment in the area. The plant would imply job creation as well as the establishment of an associative model between artisanal fishermen's unions as a means of facilitating decisionmaking. This associative model must be rigorously regulated in accordance with the objectives of conservation and rational management of marine resources. It must also have a legal structure, with a board that is representative of all the project’s participants. Fundación Melimoyu will serve as the program’s environmental adviser and must be involved in the process of determining the plant’s location, design and equipment as well as in the training of its personnel and its economic evaluation and start-up. In addition, it will supervise training workshops for the local community on the management of resources and the creation and maintenance of trust among all those involved. Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu 112
3.2.1. Objectives • Ensure the sustainability of the exploitation of natural resources through the generation, socialization, application and continuous improvement of techniques for the rational management of native fishing and benthic resources; • Optimize the work of artisanal fishermen by allowing them to deliver their daily catch daily to the plant; • Generate the conditions for PAC-SERNAPESCA certification; • Create jobs for the families of artisanal fishermen through the operation of the plant; • Sell semi-finished products (seafood without shell) directly to processing plants or to specific external markets; • Establish an associative model between the different unions of artisanal fishermen to facilitate decision-making on matters that affect the resources involved.
3.2.2 General considerations The improvement plans for the sustainable management of each resource will be implemented through an ongoing program of workshops, provided in agreement with the fishermen and the population involved and taught by experts. The primary pre-processing plant must have a volume of production and sales that makes its operation profitable in the medium term, respecting rational management of resources. The project will seek to incorporate the ten fishermen's unions that exist in the La Higuera sector, with a total of 635 registered members who would have the benefit of being able to process their catch at the pre-processing plant. The plant will be built in the Caleta Hornos sector and will be operated as a concession by artisanal fishermen from the area, who will be grouped through their respective unions and will have the right to use the plant for a certain number of years subject to the obligations established in an association contract. Finally, once certain milestones have been met, the plant will be legally transferred to the artisanal fishermen, who will assume full responsibility for the asset.
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu 113
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 114
3.3. MONITORING AND RESEARCH PLAN
The proposal considers the development of a research plan to complement and deepen knowledge about the behavior of bio-oceanographic variables in the area and the dynamics of the populations of the threatened species.In parallel, anthropogenic activities in the area will be monitored to detect and report potential contamination events associated with human activity. The research and monitoring plan will promote partnerships through agreements with national institutions of excellence such as research centers and/or related universities as well as national and international government agencies interested in the conservation and management of fishing resources and emblematic species.
On a larger oceanographic scale (open sea), all the available remote sensor systems will be used. This information, compiled and analyzed gradually over time, will permit prediction of the relevant variables at an ecological and productive level in the face of natural phenomena (for example, El Niño). This information will be available to all participants in the agreements previously established for the development of flexible inspection procedures adapted to the changing conditions of the ecosystems in question.
These partnerships would provide resources for the collection and analysis of data in each line of research which will be channeled from different sources, nationally and internationally.
The area’s ecosystem comprises the interactions between coastal terrestrial communities and intertidal, subtidal or water column communities where threatened, target, unique, key, structuring and invasive species coexist.
This ecosystem and its components require precise operation and dynamics to determine those elements critical for the conservation of the target species, such as the Humboldt Penguin, diving petrel, coastal bottlenose dolphin and marine otter, all of which would be subject to regular monitoring and studies of their population dynamics.
• Deepen knowledge about marine ecosystems, their dynamics, interactions and processes, including the monitoring of oceanographic variables as well as biodiversity variables and the target species; • Provide the scientific basis for the sustainable management of marine resources and their monitoring and for the implementation of processes of ecosystem restoration;
These would provide the criteria for evaluating the ecosystem services that support activities which require regulated management, such as tourism, industrial fishing, artisanal fishing and aquaculture.
• Monitor sources of pollution so as to establish an early warning system against any contingency.
3.3.2. Lines of research Oceanographic processes: A fixed network of meteorological and oceanographic instruments would be deployed throughout the marine area to be studied, with a focus on certain environmentally sensitive areas (for example, fishing coves, areas of potential industrial impact and protected wild areas). A monitoring plan will be implemented in the water column up to 3-5 miles from the coast to study ocean dynamics (temperature, salinity, oxygen, pH) and biological variables (plankton, nekton and others). 116
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu
Ecotoxicology and pollution:
Restoration of ecosystems:
Through regular monitoring of all the key elements, it will be possible to determine the distribution of contaminants in the food chain. Sediments, coastal waters and key marine species will be monitored and chemical analyses will be carried out constantly by toplevel accredited Chilean and international laboratories and the results studied using the best statistical tools.
In the terrestrial environment, the aim is to restore the vegetation of the western slopes of the La Higuera coastal mountains and the water infiltration ecosystem service they provide. This will be achieved by using fog capture technology to generate a stable water supply for revegetation with native species.
This information will be available online to the authorities, companies, users of the coast, researchers and the general public through digital platforms. The studies will permit the development of early warning systems, available to the corresponding authorities.
In the marine environment, the aim will be to define a reference ecosystem whose services must be restored. Special emphasis will be placed on intervened coastal and islands areas with introduced invasive species and overexploited resources.
Natural resources and society: This line of research will focus on the development of applied tools for the sustainable management of marine and terrestrial resources by communities. This will enable producers to seek accreditation and certification of the sustainable management of their resources and obtain international â€œgreen labelâ€? recognition of their products as coming from areas where natural resources are sustainably managed and ecosystem resources are conserved.
Visitorsâ€™ Center. Contributed by PROED 118
3.4. ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAM
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu - INFINISKY Arquitectura 119
Visitors’ Center contributed by PROED. Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu - INFINISKY Arquitectura 120
The Visitors’ Center is the project’s educational tool and a vital part of its obligations. Its objective is to help local communities, the Region’s schoolchildren and visitors to understand the meaning and importance of the protected marine and terrestrial areas, their inter- and intra-ecosystem relations and related values. Its function is to draw attention to the area’s most criptic environmental conditions and put living beings in the context of their environment. The Visitors’ Center will have displays on: 1. The area’s physical environment; 2. The biotic environment with its terrestrial and marine fauna and flora; 3. The present and historical human environment; 4. The Coastal Marine Protected Area (CMPA). The exhibition’s aim is to communicate the importance of the area, starting with its location in relation to the Humboldt Current System and its key position in the areas of upwellings of the coast of centralnorthern Chile and the western coast of South America. It will also highlight the role played by the unique topography of the area’s islands, which favor the retention of nutrients and, in this way, foster variety and abundance of organisms at all the levels of the food chain. It will provide information about some of the 112 species present in the area that are considered “important and of very high importance” for the ecosystem as well as information about the large cetaceans that visit the area as part of their migratory routes. In the case of terrestrial ecosystems, it will explain the role of the camanchaca fog in a semi-arid environment and that, as well as maintaining the vegetation, it can also be used, for example, to restore unique ecosystems. This is important because 73% of the plant species endemic to Chile and 8% of those endemic to the Coquimbo Region are found in the area. In addition, it will provide information about the use of the territory from the first human settlements between 9000 and 9500 BC through to today, including the development of mining and artisanal fishing. The central concept of the exhibition will be to reflect the organic structure of the “living being + its environment”. The Visitors’ Center must be able to bring the public closer to the dimension of “being in” the CMPA’s environment, familiarizing visitors with the natural and human worlds and, through various perceptual stimuli, recreating their diversity and interdependence. To achieve this, it will encompass all the different thematic areas and actively present the information with two-dimensional images, three-dimensional elements, videos, audio, etc., appealing to all visitors’ senses. 121
3.4.1. Thematic displays a) Physical Environment • Geographically, the area includes the north-south Coastal Mountains, with heights of less than 600 meters, gently sloping plains with large areas of sedimentation and steep coastal cliffs. • The area has numerous bays and fishing villages such as Punta de Choros, Chungungo, Totoralillo and Los Hornos as well as a number of islands of which the largest is Isla Chañaral with an area of 5.73 km2. • The area is located within the Humboldt Current System and is one of the three most important sectors of upwellings on the coast of central-northern Chile. • Its topography, formed by islands and the adjacent coast, favors the sector’s coastal circulation, fostering the retention of nutrients and, therefore, growth of the biomass of phytoplankton and zooplankton, with the resulting variety and abundance of organisms at all levels of the food chain. The area’s upwelling events support the great availability of food for the 112 species considered “important and of very high importance” for the ecosystem and its conservation and also make it an important feeding ground for the large cetaceans that visit the area. • The arid and semi-arid coastal systems of central and northern Chile are characterized by their camanchaca fog. It provides water for the coastal vegetation, a unique ecosystem that is rich in native species. It could also be used to some extent as a source of water for communities on the coast.
b) Biotic Environment • The proposed protected area has some 319 species of marine fauna, including 27 mammal species and 127 bird species, which either live there permanently or visit. Many of these species have conservation status. • Four mammal species reproduce in the area: the common sea lion, the fur seal, the sea otter and the coastal and oceanic bottlenose dolphin. • Forage species that play a fundamental role in the food chain such as crustaceans, sardine, anchovy, common hake and jack mackerel are subject to fishing regimes of varying degrees of restriction. 122
• Phytoplankton and zooplankton provide vital food for larvae as well as forage for fish. • The CMPA’s intertidal flora consists mainly of belts of Chilean kelp and, in the case of the subtidal flora, Chilean and giant kelp. Their importance lies in the fact that, as well as being a fishing resource in themselves, they create a substrate for extremely diverse communities (invertebrates, other macroalgae and larvae, including species of commercial importance such as abalone, limpets and crustaceans). • On the coast, 324 species of native vascular plants have been reported of which 19% have conservation problems as is also the case of 5%-10% of plant species from the south of the Atacama Region. The terrestrial fauna of birds, mammals and reptiles, like the vegetation formations, are governed by the prevailing semi-arid conditions and include guanacos and South American grey foxes. • Merely in the area between the Juan Soldado Hill and Punta de Choros, there are 73% of the species of plants endemic to Chile and 8% of those endemic to the Coquimbo Region.
c) Human Environment • The idea in this case is to show the different stages of human settlement in the region: fishing and gathering, livestock production, farming and mining.
• Mining boomed in La Higuera between 1840 and 1875, with the mineral exported through the port of Totoralillo, which began operation in 1844. By the early 1900s, however, most of the deposits were in the hands of artisanal miners. In 1840, the El Tofo iron mine was discovered and operations began there in 1870. They began to decline in 1955 as the deposit became exhausted. • The area’s main economic activities today are industrial and artisan fishing, mining, wind energy, tourism and agriculture.
d) Proposed Network of Marine Protected Areas • Map and zoning; • Map and model of the area; • Ecosystems; • Flora and fauna; • Target conservation species; • Practical information about conduct when observing birds and marine mammals (distance, noise, etc.).
• The first human settlements, dating back to between 9000 and 9500 BC, corresponded to the Chango people (between the far north of Chile to south of Coquimbo); around 2500 BC, they were followed by groups of hunters in the Copiapó and Choapa valleys. • The El Molle people (300 BC-700 AD), who are best known for their pottery with its geometric designs, farmed and kept animals and had a semi-stable pattern of settlement in the valleys and along the coast. With their use of copper, they were the first people to work metal. The Las Ánimas people (800-1000 AD) lived between the Copiapó and Limarí Rivers and incorporated polychromy into their pottery and ceramics as well as working metals, especially copper. • The Diaguita (900-1500 DC), who lived between the Copiapó and Choapa Rivers, made cave paintings. They practiced agriculture and their irrigation system allowed them to cultivate a variety of crops (maize, quinoa, beans and squash). Like the Chango, they fished using rafts. They were dominated by the Inca at the end of the fifteenth century. 123
Visitors’ Center. Contributed by PROED Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu - INFINISKY Arquitectura
3.4.2. Design of exhibition In informal and cultural education, the methodologies now in use include learning experiences through multiple formats. In line with this, the Visitors’ Center must provide information in an interesting and entertaining manner that encourages visitors’ interaction with it, using play and hands-on experience through simple and appealing activities. The information itself and the relationship between the different thematic areas call for the creation of user-friendly environments that foster communication and are geared to people with an active interest in the natural and human worlds and curiosity about them. It is important to use color, clean spaces and high-quality images, to play with perspective and to seek to surprise. Interactive objects must be produced in highstrength materials so as to minimize maintenance. In general, little text will be used, with the emphasis on technology, models or dioramas since these elements encourage exploration of the information. Although the Center’s design is being developed without a specific building in mind, a central area may be used to accommodate the five areas of the exhibition, structured as indicated in the previous section: 1. Physical Environment: Relief, Climate and Oceanography; 2. Terrestrial and Marine Flora and Fauna, particularly the Humboldt penguin and the annual migration of cetaceans; 3. The Human Being from the indigenous peoples through to modern times;
Visitors’ Center. Fundación Melimoyu - INFINISKY Arquitectura
4. The CMPA, in the entrance gallery, with a map. model and zoning information; 5. Programs, at the exit, with information about co-management with the community, research and monitoring, the Visitors’ Center, restoration of the vegetation and support for artisanal fishing. It will also include recommendations about conduct when observing birds and marine mammals (distance, noise, etc.). A botanical garden with the area’s flora and a sector with a view over points of importance in the landscape are also envisaged as well as bathrooms, administrative offices, etc. The Visitors’ Center will be implemented by PROED, an educational services company, including all actions to foster understanding of the significance and importance of the CMPA, relations between the different ecosystems and their value. For this purpose, different visual aids such as photographs, drawings, diagrams, panels, brochures and samples of flora and fauna will be used. 126
The following objectives are proposed: •
To build and administer a Visitors’ Center;
To familiarize neighboring communities and visitors with the CMPA’s conservation aims;
To equip visitors to identify and understand environmental problems, engaging all the community and fostering interest in visiting the CMPA.
General considerations The Visitors’ Center will be the main element of this Program and its central concept will be the multisensory expression of the ecosystem: “living being + its environment”. It must be able to bring the public closer to the dimension of “being in” the CMPA’s environment, familiarizing visitors with the natural and human worlds and, through various perceptual stimuli, recreating their diversity and interdependence. To achieve this, it will encompass all the different thematic areas and actively present the information with two-dimensional images, three-dimensional elements, videos, audio, etc., appealing to all visitors’ senses. Today, informal education incorporates learning experiences outside the classroom. In line with this, the Visitors’ Center must provide information in an interesting and entertaining manner that encourages visitors’ interaction with it, using play and handson experience through simple and appealing activities. The information itself and the relationship between the different thematic areas call for the creation of user-friendly environments that foster communication. The exhibition must have a modern, agile style that appeals to young people. It is important to use color, clean spaces and high-quality images, to play with perspective and to seek to surprise. Interactive objects must be produced in high-strength materials so as to minimize maintenance. In general, little text will be used, with the emphasis on technology, models or dioramas since these elements encourage visitors to spend time in front of a panel and absorb the information it contains.
when there will be large numbers of visitors, the corridors will be wide and dead-ends will be avoided because they make it difficult to control visitors. Special attention will be given to the acoustics to avoid echoes. In the case of guides, the way in which visitors will be attended and the staff required must be carefully defined so that the Center’s administrative personnel can support the guides if necessary. Other infrastructure will include an Observation Trail from the Center to the beach and nearby rocks so that visitors can see for themselves the wildlife of the ecosystem that is generated between the high and low tide lines. Information will be provided on permanent explanatory panels (self-guided trails) or by a specialized guide. The location and route of this trail will be defined later, but the idea is that it will cover the different environments that characterize the coast of the CMPA such as beaches, dunes, rocks and pools of seawater. Panels should be installed in the most visited places, both inside and outside the CMPA, with information about its conservation objectives and their benefits, the iconic target conservation species and what visitors should do to avoid interfering with these objectives. Signs indicating the access to the Visitors’ Center must be easily visible from the places where people circulate.
Requirements A construction of at least 300 m2 is required, with an information desk, library, shop, cafeteria and large warehouse as well as a multipurpose room for audiovisual projections, presentations to students, seminars and workshops. The Center’s architecture should be simple and elegant, with large and well-lit spaces, including terraces. It should be easy to maintain and minimize the impact on the landscape. Materials from the area such as stone, granite, wood and a lot of glass will be used. The building should be located in a place overlooking the sea. Near the main building, there will be a small garden with native flora and a recreational area with shade. The spatial distribution will mean that groups can be attended without them interfering with each other and will include a large entrance area. Given that there are periods 127
Visitors’ Center. Contributed by PROED Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu - INFINISKY Arquitectura
Photograph Carlos Cuevas - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 130
3.5. RESTORATION PLAN
Restoration is an activity that seeks to start and/or accelerate the recovery of a terrestrial ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or transformed by disturbances of anthropogenic or natural origin. It involves the recovery of the disturbed ecosystem’s characteristics, such as the functionality of its internal mechanisms and processes, as well as its integrity in terms of species composition and structures of communities and its capacity to resist and adjust to future disturbances. A degraded ecosystem is one that has suffered a significant loss of its original characteristics, whether structural or functional, leading to a new impoverished ecosystem or limiting its ongoing existence on a human time scale. Ecological restoration must be applied in cases where the natural recovery of the degraded ecosystem would be slow or non-existent.48
3.5.1. General considerations Marine Environment Overexploitation of marine resources There has been intense fishing activity in the proposed protected area, involving mainly non-specific fishing methods such as trawling. Direct observation49 shows that this method has a high non-target bycatch rate and damages the structure of the seabed and sediments. It is, therefore, essential to identify the most heavily intervened areas, especially those that are within the radius of the proposed reserve and in the vicinity of the islands. In this case, the exclusion of trawling is vital, as discussed above. Monitoring and follow-up of these areas are also fundamental to ensure their recovery. The extraction of brown algae such as kelp from the intertidal zone is generalized in the area and involves some 45,000 tons of this resource.50 Brown coastal algae are structuring 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 132
Environment Ministry, 2012. Plan de Restauración Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Oceana, 2016. SERNAPESCA, 2018. González et al., 2002. Simeone and Luna-Jorquera, 2012. CONAF, 2018. UNEP, 2018.
species of their habitat and provide substrate, shelter and food for most of the benthic fauna. Their integrity is, therefore, fundamental for a healthy ecosystem. In this context, it is essential to develop a sustainable management plan that regulates extraction of this resource and promotes its regeneration.51 To this end, information about the most exploited areas must be gathered, accompanied by monitoring and a follow-up plan for this resource, both in the AMERB and in the free or protected zone. Invasive alien species In the case of nesting bird species on the islands, especially the Humboldt penguin, the negative effect of invasive species that prey on eggs or compete for nests has been well documented. This effect was detected in the case of the black rat on Pájaros 1 Islet52 and of rabbits on the Chañaral, Choros and Damas Islands. In the first case, it is fundamental to implement a deratization plan that reduces the predation pressure on bird colonies. Fortunately, CONAF eliminated rabbits from the islands in 201453 but the situation needs to be monitored to avoid their reintroduction or the introduction of other invasive alien species. On the coast of the mainland, domestic animals such as dogs and cats pose a threat to the survival of the sea otter, either as a result of direct attacks or through contagion with diseases. The control and vaccination of dogs and cats in the fishing villages and other inhabited areas, as well as education about responsible pet ownership, are fundamental to prevent future impacts on the marine otter population.
Vegetation The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) identifies desertification as a critical problem for the world.54 Through the National Program for the Combat of Desertification and Drought (PANCD), whose objectives include the restoration of ecosystems and the recovery of degraded land, the Chilean state has established concrete goals for compliance with the country’s undertakings with the UN.
PANCD’s current emphasis is on ecosystem services that harness the relations between the variables of each ecosystem with their environmental and economic value for the sustainable development of both the human population and biodiversity (UNDP).55 In the case of the proposed protected area, it is important to note that, for more than a century, the Coquimbo Region has experienced a reduction in precipitation.56 This trend has been reinforced by desertification, which means that over 85% of its surface ranges from degraded to very degraded. This problem has its origin in the nineteenth century when uncontrolled use was made of the region’s forest resources by the mining and metallurgy industry of the time.57 Elimination of the vegetation led to a loss of aquifer recharge, with the resulting drop in the level of the water table.58 In the case of La Higuera, precarious management of goat herds contributed to the acceleration of this process.
The natural and efficient capture of fog by vegetation calls for coverage with trees of a height sufficient to interact with the clouds, accompanied by shrubs to trap the drops captured and condensed by the trees, so that the water slowly flows to the roots of the plants and is infiltrated, avoiding the free fall of drops which degrade the ground. This implies that it is possible to plan the restoration of tree coverage in the areas where fog is most frequent, especially in the coastal mountains of La Higuera. In this case, as there are several ecological processes that interact and result in the capture, retention and storage of water, restoration of the vegetation seeks to improve the ecosystem service provided by the water, rather than to benefit the species or a specific biome. The results of small-scale experiments with fog capture in the coastal mountains of
Despite the area’s current condition, there is real potential for restoration of the coastal terrestrial ecosystem, thanks to the presence of the camanchaca fog in volumes and with a frequency that make it a reliable source of water for the vegetation. The camanchaca is a natural phenomenon characteristic of the north of Chile that permits the formation of an “oasis of fog” in the Coastal Mountains (over 500 m).59 The Chilean state has protected some of these ecosystems by creating national parks such as the Pan de Azúcar and Llanos National Parks in the Atacama Region and the Fray Jorge National Park in the Coquimbo Region. However, between them, there is a sector stretching over 250 km from north to south without protection of the type required by its high level of vulnerability. The camanchaca provides up to 66% of the water used by undergrowth plants during the dry season.60,61 Studies in the Fray Jorge National Park have shown that the clouds can produce significant amounts of water on foggy days62 but, according to other isotopic studies in the Coquimbo Region, the fog does not help to recharge aquifers in degraded coastal basins.63 It is important to note that the capture and infiltration of rainwater depend to a large extent on the presence of vegetation with underground root structures.64 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64
PNUD-UE, Chile, 2018. Programa Conjunto para combatir la Desertificación. Páez, D., 2010. Santander, A., 2003. CONIC-BF, 2013. Muñoz-Schick et al., 2001. Dawson, 1998. Ewing et al., 2009. Garreaud et al., 2008. Squeo et al., 2006. Gao-Lin Wu et al., 2017.
Photograph Carlos Cuevas - Fundación Melimoyu
La Higuera65,66 provide a convincing model of what can be achieved in restoring the functioning of ecosystems. The capture of water is constant and significant and would provide permanent supply until the vegetation itself is able to capture this resource. In order to improve the results further and even recover degraded land, it would be necessary to work with the community to achieve sustainable management of the area’s goats, transforming them into an ally of ecological restoration.67 Over time, this program would permit restoration of the semi-arid coastal vegetation, helping to reduce the temperature of the ground, with some potential for increasing rainfall in the area.68 The ultimate goal of the restoration will be to take the damaged or destroyed ecosystem back to a state as similar as possible to that which existed before its alteration. In a trial restoration, it will, therefore, be necessary to research these prior conditions, referred to as “reference ecosystem”, since the characteristics of its composition, structure and functioning will guide the design of the restoration. Ecological restoration is, in general, based on an understanding of the past. However, since it is not advisable to attempt to recreate a specific historical state, work focuses on restoring functionality.69 It is very difficult for a “restored” ecosystem to recover its previous composition and structure because current conditions are necessarily different from those that originally prevailed. The aim, therefore, is to eliminate the agents that led to its degradation and produce, as far as possible, an alternative ecosystem, typical of the region, with the functionality of the original ecosystem.
Fauna The area has a population of coastal guanacos that are exposed to negative interaction with cattle, goats and donkeys, which cause degradation of the ground and compete for resources. Because the guanacos and goats feed on the area’s native vegetation, overgrazing has occurred and is one of the main causes of the decline of the guanaco populations of this specie.70 This also causes degradation of the vegetation and the ground, playing an essential role in erosion and desertification processes.71 Some 1,600 goats and over 800 semi-domesticated donkeys graze in the proposed protected area and have a significant impact on the vegetation on which the guanaco also feed.72,73 The local guanaco population comprises some 300 individuals who live in the Los Choros Gorge, from Highway 5 through to where it runs into the sea, and in the area known as Llanos de Los Choros. One way to generate virtuous interaction and avoid this competition between livestock and native herbivore species would be to implement a holistic livestock management system, using the herd effect in the regeneration of the vegetation in such a way that passage of the livestock promotes the appearance of basic vegetation.74 Under current grazing practices, the livestock is left free to graze an area until the vegetation cover has been eliminated. This could be changed through the co-design of a new grazing system that, by conserving the vegetation, permits coexistence with wild herbivores such as the guanaco.
The objective is, in other words, to restore the ecosystem services of the native vegetation, facilitating the infiltration of water, fostering the recovery of the ground and the ongoing existence, variety and area of distribution of the different vegetation strata as well as the ecosystem services in terms of the habitat, forage and breeding grounds of the species that depend on them. 65 Holmes et al., 2015. 66 Cereceda et al., 2014. 67 Savory and Parsons, 1980. 68 Pöhlker et al., 2012. 69 Sundstrom et al., 2012. 70 Baldi et al., 2004. 71 Boza, 2006. 72 Sistema de Evaluación Ambiental (SEA). Línea de base Proyecto Dominga. 73 Torres, 2010. 74 Agricultura Regenerativa, 2019. http://www.agriculturaregenerativa.es/manejo-holistico-3 134
Illustration Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu
3.5.2. Lines of work Monitoring and Research Plan: This purpose of this plan is to characterize and monitor the parts of the proposed protected area that have been most heavily intervened by extractive activities. In this way, it will provide a record of the recovery of the seabed substrate and the associated species after the exclusion of trawling.
Sustainable Development Plan for Artisanal Fishing: A sustainable management plan for the area’s benthic resources will be implemented. The emphasis will be on the use of algae extraction techniques that permit the recolonization and regeneration of overexploited areas.
Plan for eradication of rats on Pájaros 1 Islet:
Reforestation and recovery of degraded land: This line of work will be addressed as established by the National Forest Service (CONAF), which subsidizes up to 90% of forestation costs, including the recovery of degraded land (according to tables published annually). The treatments eligible for subsidies are microterraces with scarification of seeds, manual forests micro-terraces, subsoil with crests, infiltration ditches, structures of gabions, diversion channels, control dams, stone walls, palisades and sandbags.
Zoning and exclusion of degraded areas: The aim of this line of work is to address restoration from a territorial perspective by means of zoning according to criteria such as the level of environmental degradation, plant associations, threatened species, gradients, proximity to gorges and water courses and the feasibility of intervention. An exclusion zone to protect the guanaco and others zones could possibly be declared in places inhabited or previously inhabited by the burrowing parrot.
This envisages elimination of black rats from the islet as well as permanent rat monitoring in the rest of the system islands in order to avoid reintroduction.
Holistic livestock management:
Vaccination plan and responsible pet ownership:
This line of work focuses on the organization of participatory workshops with the area’s livestock farmers so that they adopt and/or develop holistic management practices, with the consequent reduction in the total number of livestock in the area, in order to increase the vegetation available for the local guanaco population.
This aim of this plan is to control the impact of domestic animals on sea otters through mass vaccination of dogs and cats in the fishing villages and other inhabited areas, as well as an education plan for the population on responsible pet ownership which, in this case includes the need to take the proximity of wild species into account.
Program activities •
Identification and periodic observation of the seabed in the areas most intervened by trawling;
Diagnosis and monitoring of the intertidal regions intervened by algae extraction;
Workshops for the community on the sustainable management of benthic and fishing resources;
Early rat eradication during off-season nesting of birds, in Pájaros 1 Islet;
Periodic vaccination of pets and responsible pet ownership workshops for coastal communities in the area of interest;
Coordination and oversight of the proper implementation of all the projects that form part of this program;
Fog capture: This system of capturing the microscopic droplets of water contained in fog is used in other desertic regions such as northern Chile’s Atacama Desert and Israel’s Negev Desert as well as in Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Nepal, some African countries and the Gran Canaria Island. In the area of the proposed CMPA, systems have been built as private initiatives in three places - Los Choros, El Sarco and Cerro Grande - and have achieved average daily capture rates of between 0.88 and 2.38 l/m2/day. It will be necessary to evaluate the current state of these systems, compare their yields with other structures in similar conditions and verify their results as regards recovery of the natural vegetation. Based on this, it would possible to suggest modifications, identify and budget the repairs required and eventually propose their installation in other places in the project’s area of influence. 136
Installation and maintenance of fog capture systems and related structures;
Design of forest management plans and their submission to CONAF in order to obtain the corresponding subsidies;
Participatory workshops with local livestock farmers and agreement on the total number of livestock in the area;
Regular coordination activities with producers in order to gather information about their views, level of satisfaction with the Program, needs that were not initially detected and any other opportunities for improvement.
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundaciรณn Melimoyu 138
3.6. SHARED GOVERNANCE PROGRAM
The Shared governance Program includes administration of all the project’s financial and human resources, coordination and implementation of investments for each of the management programs and the general strategy for the area’s development and each of its programs of work. The following objectives are proposed: • To implement initiatives for the creation and consolidation of the Coastal Marine Protected Area (CMPA), administering the resources efficiently in order to ensure its proper functioning in the long term; • To coordinate different plans, administering the human and economic resources and the infrastructure required to ensure opportune compliance with the programs’ different activities and projects; • To guarantee that tourism, external agents or the activities of other programs do not negatively affect the CMPA’s integrity or that of its visitors; • To promote community participation in the co-management of CMPA in line with the proposed shared governance model.
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu 140
3.6.1. Criteria In general, the declaration of a protected areas calls for the subsequent design of a General Management Plan to define objectives, strategies and goals in line with the desired results and to establish governance mechanisms and mechanisms for taking decisions related to economic activities in the area.75 There is consensus in the literature that, in order to achieve their ends, these instruments should be designed in a participatory and inclusive manner. International experience indicates that adaptive governance mechanisms produce the best results.76 These mechanisms govern the interactions between actors, networks, organizations and institutions that occur as a result of their interest in achieving the conditions in the socio-ecological systems that have been jointly defined as desirable. Consequently, a certain level of flexibility and adaptability is required. Most incumbents and stakeholders in environmental matters, from government agencies to grassroots organizations, are considered to have the interest and motivation to manage decision-making and governance. This model in which all are involved is referred to as shared governance and is based on the fundamental principle of including both the users of resources and those responsible for formal policies (for example, the government) in a joint decision-making process.77 This model of shared governance is, therefore, often the result of a process with its roots in the community which has matured to the extent that the users of resources and those responsible for drawing up policies (and other private sector bodies) have comparable influence and are willing to collaborate.78 Due to its characteristics, the Management Plan should include at least the following aspects: 1) Zoning of the area’s uses; 2) Creation of a scientific research center; 3) Creation of a Visitors’ Center for environmental education; 4) Shared governance of the CMPA; 5) Restoration of the coastal vegetation and fauna. 75 76 77 78
All these aspects are addressed in this proposal. Similarly, the “Public-Private Committee” responsible for discussing this plan should represent shared governance of the area. This implies that it should have a Board on which the following are represented: a) Ministry of the Environment; b) Undersecretariat for Fisheries and Aquaculture; c) Armed Forces (Maritime Authority); d) Regional Government; e) Municipal Government; f) Artisanal fishing sector; g) Industrial fishing sector; h) Holders of marine concessions; i) NGOs whose objective is the protection and conservation of the oceans and marine species. Governance can only be exercised on the basis of complete technical information. A high-level Scientific Center, of an independent nature, is, therefore, required to supply constant information for the following purposes: a) To generate knowledge about the socio-ecosystem, its services, key processes, spatial structure, interactions and time dynamics as an input for its proper management; b) To design policies and measures to strengthen the socio-ecosystem’s resilience and ensure an adequate flow of ecosystem services; c) To generate information that allows the corresponding bodies to take timely action in the event of undesired impacts on the socio-ecosystem. The Center should be alert for dynamic changes in the socio-ecosystem of which it forms part, contribute to social development and seek to reduce knowledge gaps and manage uncertainty.
Andrade et al., 2010. Biggs et al., 2015. De Caro et al., 2017. Christie and White, 2007. 141
3.6.2. Community participation
• Do no harm. To ensure that the costs of establishing and managing the protected areas do not create or aggravate poverty and vulnerability.
This includes all the initiatives that involve the population in management of both the CMPA and the resources envisaged.
• Direction. To foster and maintain an inspiring and consistent long-term vision for the protected area and its conservation objectives.
The experience acquired over many years in the management of both marine and terrestrial protected areas shows that participation of the inhabitants of the territories involved is decisive for the achievement of conservation objectives.79 The CMPA’s future General Management Plan should include specific binding mechanisms that guarantee the community’s participation in its management.
• Performance. To conserve biodiversity effectively whilst also responding to stakeholders’ concerns and using resources wisely.
One example of such a mechanism is the “Framework Agreement” signed on 21 October 2016 by the La Higuera Community and the private company, Andes Iron. It formally establishes80 an undertaking on the part of the company to share part of the returns from its exploitation of the mineral. These economic resources will be administered by a body known as the “Joint Entity”.81 This agreement was signed on behalf of the community by over 1,600 inhabitants, aged 18 or over, of the La Higuera municipal district as a result of the joint work and community engagement that took place in 2011.
• Transparency. To ensure that all the relevant information is available to all stakeholders.
According to the IUCN, community participation should include all the stakeholders.82 Its guide establishes the principles on which this social engagement should be based under any type of management or agreements:
• Oversee proper implementation of all the projects contained in the different programs and coordinate their implementation.
• Legitimacy and voice. Organizations must have the legitimacy to be able to engage in effective dialogue and reach collective agreements about the objectives and management strategies of these protected areas. This calls for freedom of association and expression, without discrimination by gender, ethnicity, lifestyle, cultural values or other characteristics.
• Accountability. To establish clear lines of responsibility and ensure adequate reporting and answerability from all stakeholders about the fulfilment of their responsibilities.
• Human rights. Respect for human rights including the rights of future generations
3.6.3. General program activities • Manage the budget and keep an account of all expenditure and a detailed inventory of stock. • Prepare administrative reports. • Draw up an Annual Operating Plan for the different projects and activities established in the programs.
• Subsidiarity. To attribute management authority and responsibility to the institutions closest to the resources at stake.
• Define the budgets, human resources and infrastructure necessary to fulfill the management objectives.
• Fairness. To share the costs and benefits of establishing and managing the protected areas equitably and provide an impartial means of judgment in the event of a related conflict.
• Implement (directly or indirectly) all the infrastructure required by the pending Management Programs, including construction of the Environmental Information Center.
79 IUCN, 2000. 80 The mechanism was formalized through a Public Deed. 81 The Joint Entity brings together Andes Iron and the Municipal Working Group, represented by 36 leaders from different localities and economic sectors. 82 IUCN, 2012. 142
• Review the Management Plan annually, updating information, verifying compliance with activities and projects and proposing changes when deemed necessary. This review must be participatory and be carried out together with the different actors with whom the CMPA’s administration interacts.
• Implement internal control and adjustment mechanisms through which to keep expenditure in line with the Annual Operating Plan and carry out annual analysis of compliance with each operating plan, the causes of overruns and the solutions to be applied. • Maintain permanent relations with all the government and private bodies related to the CMPA so that they are familiar with the project and contribute to achievement of its objectives. • Maintain constant vigilance so as to minimize risk and prevent accidents as a result of activities carried out in the protected area. • Define a strategy, and make available the elements for its implementation, to be applied should any event or situation pose a threat to the area’s resources, infrastructure, personnel or visitors (such as fires and furtive activities).
• Manage the project’s economic resources, identifying possible sources of financing and taking all the steps required for this purpose. • Supervise the tendering and implementation of work by third parties, overseeing full compliance with contracts. • Coordinate with the corresponding programs the organization of the activities required to repair tools and equipment, maintain the installations and collect waste in areas of intensive public use. • Coordinate and provide the means for frequent patrols, with a peak in the summer season. • Mark the terrestrial and maritime boundaries of the new CMPA, using fixed markers and the corresponding signs on land and, in the sea, buoys.
• Oversee that the CMPA is not affected by possible infrastructure development projects and, if these are inevitable, hold talks with those responsible and the authorities in order to minimize their impact.
Photograph Rafael Edwards - Fundación Melimoyu
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