September 11, 2023
Featured image: Playa Las Tijeras, Isla Damas, Humboldt Archipelago, Chile © Cesar Villarroel
On August 14th, 2023, Chile’s Council of Ministers for Sustainability approved the Humboldt Archipelago Multi-Use Marine Coastal Protected Area (AMCP-MU). Located between the Atacama and Coquimbo regions, this new area will cover more than 5,700 square kilometers.
Susannah J. Buchan, PhD, Champion of the Humboldt Archipelago Hope Spot and Principal Investigator, COPAS Coastal & Visiting Professor, University of Concepción, Chile says, “The creation of the Humboldt Archipelago Multiple Use Marine Protected area is an important step forward in the protection of this unique habitat, particularly from the building of new mega-ports in this area.” She adds, “We thank the hard work of the Chilean Ministry of the Environment. We are thrilled by this news and now look forward to supporting the Chilean government in putting together the MUMPA management plan.”
Under the new designation, artisanal fishing and wildlife tourism will continue to be allowed, while port projects, including mining, are blocked.
The Humboldt Archipelago spans a collection of islands off Chile’s northern coast and possesses the Humboldt Current kelp forest ecosystem, which sustains high levels of biodiversity. Kelp forests, which are suffering unregulated exploitation, provide essential habitats for invertebrates, juvenile Humboldt Current krill, and juvenile pelagic fish. It holds a significant population of vulnerable species as the Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) and endemic species as the Peruvian diving petrel (Pelecanoides garnotii).
Under the waves, the Humboldt Archipelago serves as a migration route and feeding ground for endangered fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus), humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), Sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) and Southern right whales (Eubalaena australis).