and Environment Minister Javier Naranjo for establishing an AMCP MU behind the backs of the population
La Serena 31 January 2022
On 22 December 2021, the Ministerial Council for Sustainability (CMS) decided to designate a marine protected area "Humboldt Archipelago" with multiple uses, AMCP-MU, whose area is divided and without designating any use restrictions for the zone. Confronted with this decision, we, organisations of local fishermen, communities of the indigenous Chango people, rural drinking water committees, tourism groups, olive producers and environmental organisations from the municipalities of La Higuera and Freirina (Chañaral de Aceituno), address the President of the Republic and the Minister of Environment and demand the annulment of this vote.
Our demand has the following reasons:
- The proposal to establish the AMCP-MU does not provide for any restriction on industrial activity. However, these activities are the greatest threat to the conservation of the species that live and feed in the Humboldt Archipelago. They also threaten the development of the zone in the management and use of benthic resources by local fisheries.
- If the objective of the establishment of an AMCP-MU is the protection and conservation of biodiversity, it is neither understandable nor comprehensible why an AMCP-MU is approved that excludes the island of Chañaral de Aceituno, divides the ecosystem with it and in this way ignores the fact that the eight islands and islets form a coherent ecosystem, namely the Humboldt Archipelago.
- Science has pointed out very clearly that the Humboldt Archipelago is a highly sensitive ecosystem that would be irreversibly damaged by industrial activities such as mega-ports, marine mining and industrial desalination plants. This has also been confirmed by representatives of professional bodies and statements by their associations in opinions dealing with the inadequacies, errors and deficiencies in the process of assessing the "Dominga" mining and port project, as well as the very special value of this ecosystem for the conservation of biodiversity.
- The technical proposal on the basis of which the CMS approved the establishment of the AMCP-MU Humboldt Archipelago was made without citizen participation. We were not consulted in this case, thus bypassing the usual procedure in the development of protected areas. Neither was the proposal ever consulted with citizens, nor was the scope and size of the proposed marine region made public. This is in contrast to the minister's claims that the CMS "continued the work of the government of Mrs. Michelle Bachelet, which has already held meetings and workshops with the residents of the area.... also took seriously the task of defining the area...". None of these proposals has ever been endorsed by the citizens.
- In contrast to the "intensive efforts of the government in the last three years...", civil society of the area and science have been working for the protection of this coastal area for more than 17 years. We remind you that with the change of government in 2018, the work of the regional technical table on AMCP MU was suspended. This was also confirmed by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Mr. Benítez in an audience of the same year, when he replied to our question "What is the status of the declaration (of a marine protected area)?" that there was no background on the issue. The creation of an AMCP MU was therefore not in progress.
- The CMS vote completely contradicts the sovereign decision of the Coquimbo and Atacama regions for a bi-regional AMCP MU covering the entire Humboldt Archipelago, stretching from Punta Porotos in the north of the municipality of La Serena (Coquimbo region) to Chañaral de Aceituno in the municipality of Freirina (Atacama region). A decision that thus takes into account the original proposal with a total area of 3,345 square kilometres. The regional governments of Atacama and Coquimbo have committed to this solution and this decision is supported by local organisations.
- By ignoring the original technical proposal and preparing a new one without involving citizens and indigenous communities, the Ministry is submitting an authoritative proposal to CMS for a vote. This approach ignores - as said - among other things, the existence of three state-recognised Chango communities.
- The Council's defined marine area of 2,219 square kilometres is smaller than the 3,345 square kilometres proposed in 2010. The proposal at that time was prepared by the NGO Oceana, requested by the local communities. It is supported by science. It is important to note that the original extension corresponds to the definition of a priority area in biodiversity conservation as defined by the public institutions that have been part of the Regional Biodiversity Commission since 2003.
- It is argued that all uses are allowed in this area that are sustainable and take into account the value of the protected objects of the area, that future projects must adapt to the defined standards. What guarantee do we have then that "Dominga" and "Cruz Grande" will not be realised, when it is common knowledge that these projects pose the greatest threat? Paper is patient, "Dominga" claims to be a sustainable mining project. Could it be that conditions are just being created to facilitate its approval? The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the appeals against the verdict of the Antofagasta environmental court.
- We are concerned that this plan for an AMCP-MU has been developed behind closed doors. Only the Undersecretary for Fisheries, the Undersecretary for Maritime Affairs, the Undersecretary for Tourism and the Ministry of Environment were involved, but no one from the region. Even though Minister Javier Naranjo has subsequently apologised to us for this mistake, we cannot accept a decision of this magnitude without our involvement.
- The proposal to establish an AMCP-MU originated in the Advisory Council of the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve. The organisations of the Advisory Council asked the NGO Oceana for help in developing a technically sound proposal and then submitted it in 2010.
- As this is a decision affecting 2 regions, we cannot accept an incomplete "first step", as the Minister said. Especially as all the technical information is available in both regions to move forward responsibly on a permit that meets conservation needs, takes into account community plans and respects regional decisions.
- As a logical consequence we demand
- the annulment of the CMS decision recommending to the President the creation of an AMCP-MU with commonly known deficiencies and errors
- to create conditions for giving priority to the Regions' proposal for a BIREGIONAL AMCP-MU
- a decree on AMCP-MU that restricts industrial activities, protects local economic activities such as local fishing, tourism and olive cultivation
- a management with all stakeholders, providing for the majority of residents in management and decisions as has been done in other decrees on the AMCP-MU
This is absolutely necessary.
CONSEJO CONSULTIVO RESERVA NACIONAL PINGÜINO DE HUMBOLDT (ADVISORY BOARD OF THE NATIONAL PROTECTED AREA OF THE HUMBOLDT PENGUIN)
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SELF-EMPLOYED WORKERS AND MARINE DIVERS OF PUNTA DE CHOROS
COMMUNITY OF THE INDIGENOUS CHANGO JUANA VERGARA AND FAMILY OF PUNTA DE CHOROS
THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY CHANGO THE PEOPLE OF THE CHANGO HUMBOLDT ARCHIPELAGO FROM PUNTA DE CHOROS
CULTURAL AND SOCIAL GROUP OF THE CHANGO PEOPLE OF PTA.DE CHOROS
A.P.R. PUNTA DE CHOROS
A.P.R. CALETA CHUNGUNGO
ORGANISATION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND PROMOTION OF TOURISM - ODEFOT DE PUNTA DE CHOROS NEIGHBOURHOOD COUNCIL OF PUNTA DE CHOROS
A.G. OF SEAMEN CALETA CHUNGUNGO.
INDEPENDENT WORKERS UNION LA CRUZ DE CALETA CHUNGUNGO
CAMANCHACRAS GROUP CALETA DE HORNOS
MOVIMIENTO DEFENSA MEDIO AMBIENTE-MODEMA-LA HIGUERA (ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT-LA HIGUERA)
UNION OF DIVERS AND INDEPENDENT WORKERS (STI) OF CHAÑARAL DE ACEITUNO BAY, ATACAMA REGION
TOURISMUS ORCA, CHAÑARAL DE ACEITUNO, ATACAMA-REGION
THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY CHANGOS Y ÁLVAREZ - HIDALGO Y DESCENDENCIA. CALETA CHAÑARAL DE ACEITUNO, REGIÓN DE ATACAMA
SPHENISCO REGIÓN DE COQUIMBO
COOPERATIVE PUNTA NORTE OF PUNTA DE CHOROS
A.G. DE PESCADORES MARISCADORES DE LOS CHOROS
LOS CHOROS COMMERCIAL FISHING COOPERATIVE
DEFENSA AMBIENTAL REGIÓN DE COQUIMBO (ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION IN THE VI. REGION)
translated by Claudia Wirth