Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Chile declares two new Marine Protected Areas around the Diego Ramírez and Juan Fernández Islands, homes of Black-browed and Grey-headed Albatrosses and the Pink-footed Shearwater

At the Our Oceans Conference held last week in Malta Chile announced the establishment of two new large marine protected areas  closed to fishing and all other extractive activities.

One of the new reserves protects more than 117 000 km² of ocean around the Diego Ramírez Islands, off South America's Cape Horn.  At 484 000 km², the second new MPA lies around the Juan Fernández Islands in the southern Pacific.


Diego Ramírez supports breeding populations of ACAP-listed Black-browed Thalassarche melanophris (Near Threatened) and Grey-headed T. chrysostoma (Endangered) Albatrosses. The Juan Fernández Islands support breeding Pink-footed Shearwaters Ardenna creatopus, an ACAP-listed Chilean endemic with a globally Vulnerable status.

Grey-headed Albatrosses on Diego Ramirez, photograph by Graham Robertson


The two new MPAs come after Chile announced a 740 000-km² marine park known as Rapa Nui Rahui that halts industrial fishing, mining and other extractive activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone around Easter Island at the Fourth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (MPAC4) held in Chile last month (click here). Chile had previously declared a large MPA at the 2014 Our Ocean Conference held in its own country (click here). From 2014 to 2017 the three previous Our Ocean Conferences resulted in the designation of 9.9 million square kilometres as new Marine Protected Areas.

Distinguished guests at the conference included Prince Charles and Prince Albert II. The welcoming speech on the first day of the two-day conference was given by European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, who announced developments with an MPA in the Adriatic Sea.

Read more here.

Selected Literature:

Lawton, K., Robertson, G., Kirkwood, R., Valencia, J., Schlatter, R. & Smith, D. 2006. An estimate of population sizes of burrowing seabirds at the Diego Ramirez archipelago, Chile, using distance sampling and burrow-scoping. Polar Biology 29: 229-238.

Robertson, G., Moreno, C.A., Lawton, K., Arata, J., Valencia, J. & Kirkwood, R. 2007. An estimate of the population sizes of Black-browed (Thalassarche melanophrys) and Grey-headed (T. chrysostoma) Albatrosses breeding in the Diego Ramírez Archipelago, Chile. Emu 107: 239-244.

Robertson, G., Wienecke, B., Suazo, C.G., Lawton, K., Arata, J.A. & Moreno, C. 2017. Continued increase in the number of black-browed albatrosses (Thalassarche melanophris) at Diego Ramírez, Chile. Polar Biology 40:1035-1042.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 10 October 2017