Earlier this year, Oceana received welcome news from the Chilean government when officials finally released a regulatory map covering each of the 117 seamounts where bottom trawling is banned on a permanent basis. The ban covers almost 70,000 square kilometers of Chilean waters, including Juan Fernandez.
The ban was a result of nearly six years of campaigning by Oceana, which first proposed amendments to the Chilean Fisheries law in 2009. At that time, Oceana called on the government to protect all vulnerable marine ecosytems, including closing seamounts (ie. underwater mountains) to fishing gear that could have an irreversible or long-term impact.
On the heels of Chile's Undersecretary of Fisheries issuing final regulations to protect the country's seamounts (including those in Juan Fernandez), Oceana continued to publicize the need for a larger, fully protected area around the entirety of the Juan Fernandez Islands. The highlight of these activities took place on March 14 when Oceana deployed an ROV (remote operated vehicle) to the remains of the Dresden exactly 100 years after its sinking in World War I. Images captured from Oceana's ROV are the first high quality images of the infamous German warship, which was chased from Europe to Robinson Crusoe Island and finally sunk by three British ships on March 14, 1915.
Sadly, the need to fully protect the Juan Fernandez Islands was reinforced just after the Dresden dive when two fishing vessels ran aground near Alexander Selkirk Island on March 19. Fuel leaked into the waters around the archipelago and threatens to impact the areas artisinal lobster fishery.