We are thrilled that Chile’s president, Michelle Bachelet, announced yesterday at the Our Ocean conference that her nation will create a huge marine park around Rapa Nui, better known as Easter Island.
Pending approval by the island’s indigenous people, a 243,630-square-mile area in the Pacific would be off-limits for fishing. The British government is also planning a marine park, of 322,000 square miles, around the Pitcairn Islands, which are Easter Island’s closest neighbors. Protecting this vast area from illegal industrial fishing is a major ecological step forward for the world’s oceans. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group, spoke for many of us when he blogged on Monday: “This wonderful action will protect treasures off the shores of this remote island, as well as the brilliant biodiversity that feeds the local Rapa Nui people, and helps them continue their centuries-old cultural traditions.”
Easter Island is best known for its immense maoi, the iconic giant heads that were carved and transported by early settlers of the island. And we’re especially delighted by the timing of Chile’s announcement because we’re preparing a story about the island for the November/December “islands” issue of Budget Travel!