Follow Chile’s Example and Make the Chukchi Sea a Protected Marine Park

by Heather Kallevig

Desventurados - Largest Marine Park

Desventurados – Largest Marine Park

Today the Chilean government announced its intentions to establish the Nazca Desventuradas Marine Park.  This is the largest marine park in both North and South America.  It includes an area of 297,518 square kilometers or 114,872 square miles.  According to Oceana, the Desventuradas Marine Park is considered one of the last remaining pristine oceanic regions in South America.  The decision to protect the park was backed by research conducted by both National Geographic and Oceana.  

Chile's largest marine park

Desventuradas – a small group of islands off the pacific coast of Chile

It will ensure the region’s survival for future generations and offer a sanctuary for its unique ecosystem and fisheries which have been depleted in recent decades.  The Desventuradas Marine Park is an important step, and one that should be emulated by other countries in the Western Hemisphere.  The United States has a similar opportunity in the arctic region.

Last week, after fighting a long and impassioned battle to drill in the arctic, Shell has abandoned drilling and a project that has cost the company over $7 billion.  Shell stated “it had found indications of oil and gas in the Burger J well, some 150 miles from Barrow, Alaska, but said it wasn’t enough to justify further exploration.”  In other words, they had “disappointing results.”  Shell’s resolution to end drilling and its controversial announcement surfaces at a time when fossil fuel energy is rapidly losing support as consumers call for cleaner and safer energy sources, particularly wind and solar.  

Environmentalists protest Shell drilling arctic ocean

Following Shell’s announcement, the US government should move forward to protect the Chukchi Sea, one of the most pristine and largest remaining arctic oceanic environments in the western hemisphere.  This region is not only a keyb impacted by climate change, it also houses innumerable birds, plants, and wildlife who depend on an environment protected from oil, gas, and other pollutants.  Environmentalists, future generations, and lawmakers should work cooperatively to follow Chile’s example and protect this invaluable resource for generations to come.

Polar bears depend on ice in the Chukchi Sea

To learn more about Chile’s announcement visit Oceana’s Press Release.  

 

To learn more about Shell’s resolution see BBC’s informative article.

Resources:

Fortune – Shell abandons Arctic Drilling After Poor Test Results

BBC – Shell Stops Arctic Activity After “Disappointing” Tests

Oceana – Chilean President Announces Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park at 2015 ‘Our Ocean’ Conference

 

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