News archive

Newsletter +++ December January 2021/22 +++


+++"Penguins" Take Sides+++

On December 10th, Defensa Ambiental IV Region organized a rally with the motto "Los Pingüinos del Archipiélago de Humboldt estamos con Boric" ("The penguins of the Humboldt Archipelago back Boric"). The event was well attended and very well received. The background was that the candidate Gabriel Boric, in contrast to José Antonio Kast, had clearly spoken out in favor of protecting the environment. 

+++Family Gardens+++

In a week full of social hustle and bustle and work, at the end of a school year, Defensa Ambiental nevertheless managed to keep its promise and continue the project "Family Gardens". On Tuesday the 14th and Thursday the 16th of December, 95 families in Caleta Los Hornos, Chungungo and La Higuera received a total of 95 containers. Each small pallet contained beetroot, onions, basil, lettuce, kale, tomatoes, and peppers. 


+++Presidential Election+++ 

Gabriel Boric F. (born 1986 in Punta Arenas) won the run-off election of the presidential election against the politician José Antonio Kast on the 19th of December. Gabriel Boric was one of the leaders of the student protests of 2011, which advocated comprehensive reforms in the educational system. Since 2014, he has been a member of the Chamber of Deputies for the Magallanes Region and supported the protests against social inequality in 2019. He ran for the coalition "I Vote for Dignity" (Apruebo Dignidad), a left-wing alliance.  The defeated candidate, José Antonio Kast R., represents ultra-conservative or right-wing extremist positions and rejects the demands of the protest movement of 2019. Natural and environmental protection is not an issue for him. 

As in many other countries, society in Chile is divided. In the Senate, Boric's camp does not have a majority, and in the Chamber of Deputies it is very small. The election of Gabriel Boric is associated with great hopes for democratic and social reforms, as well as a successful constitutional reform. Many Chileans expect more civil rights, more commitment to the climate crisis and progress in the protection of nature and thus also in the protection of the Humboldt Archipelago. 

+++Protest Against "Sham Protection Zone"+++

At the end of December, the Council of Ministers for Sustainability approved the creation of a multi-use marine protected area for the Humboldt Archipelago. Once again, citizens were not involved. The existence of the Chango communities was not taken into account, nor was the demand of the neighboring communities to create a bi-regional protection zone that protects the entire Humboldt Archipelago, i.e., that it is a uniform ecosystem. The biggest point of criticism:  the decision of the Council of Ministers leaves open whether the mega-ports "Dominga" and "Cruz Grande" should be operated in the planned zone or whether the protection zone prevents this. The decision is in contradiction to plans developed by the regional governments of Coquimbo and Atacama together with the affected communities, and therefore triggered decisive protests (see "Governors call fragmented marine protection zone "inappropriate", on this website"). So far, the governors' protest note has gone unanswered.

On December 27th, Krist Naranjo, Governor of the Coquimbo Region, invited four representatives of the local fishing associations, Luis Vergara of the Chango Community , the scientist Carlos Gaymer, as well as representatives of the environmental groups Defensa Ambiental, MODEMA and SPHENISCO, to discuss and plan further action against the decision of the Council of Ministers. Among other things, it was agreed to write an open letter to the President. This letter was handed over to the Regional Minister of the Environment in La Serena on the 31st of January.  23 organizations (local fishermen, indigenous Chango communities, rural drinking water committees, tourism groups, olive producers and environmental organizations from the municipalities of La Higuera and Freirina-Chañaral de Aceituno) are protesting the establishment of a marine protection zone with sustainable use, decided behind the backs of citizens. (see "Open Letter to President Sebastián Piñera ..." on this website). 

+++Supreme Court+++

On January 12th, the Chilean Supreme Court hearings on a settlement in the Dominga case took place. On that date, only some of the parties submitted their comments. The remaining opening statements will be presented at a new date, on the 16th of March. The plaintiffs from the ranks of "environmentalists" (Oceana, Fima, MODEMA, Fishermen's Union of Los Choros) have already stated that they consider a settlement to be inappropriate and therefore not possible. They pointed out that the subject matter of the dispute was whether or not the authorization procedure was factually and technically appropriate. A settlement based on these open issues is therefore not possible. 


+++Appeal Against Approval of "Dominga" Rejected+++ 

Also in January, the Appellate Court in La Serena dismissed the appeal of the NGO Oceana against the decision of the COEVA (Environmental Assessment Commission of Coquimbo) from August 11th. We remember: COEVA had approved the Dominga project of the company Andes Iron. The court now rejected the complainant's arguments with reference to the ongoing proceedings before the Supreme Court on the grounds that "there is no urgent need for protection that can be satisfied in this way, because this legal protection is already exercised by the judiciary".

+++Consultation on a Bi-Regional Marine Protection Zone+++ 

On the 26th of January, at the invitation of Miguel Vargas (Governor of the Atacama Region), the 3rd meeting of the "Advisory Committee on the Marine and Coastal Area with Multiple Uses, Humboldt Archipelago, Atacama Region", took place in Chañaral de Aceituno. Scientists, representatives of civil society (e.g., fishermen's organizations and environmental groups) were invited to the meeting. Carlos Gaymer and Guillermo Luna from the University of Coquimbo presented the latest scientific findings regarding the development of a marine protection zone. The participants agreed that a committee should be formed to create a bi-regional protection zone. The deliberations are to be continued as early as February 3rd. Nancy Duman took the opportunity to introduce Karen Quezada as a new employee of SPHENISCO. 

 P E R U 

+++Research "Breeding Success on the Ballestas, Peru?"+++

At the beginning of December, SPHENISCO organized a video conference with Señora Milagros, Acorema and the sponsors (1) of the project "Breeding Success on the Ballestas, Peru?". Señora Milagros described the meaning and significance of the project, informed about the project and the current status on the basis of initial pictures. In order to record possible disturbing factors of the breeding success, e.g., by tourism, data collection over several years is required. The participants hope that it will be possible to continue the investigations beyond 2022.

(1) Zoo Frankfurt, Dr. Stefan Stadler, Acting Zoo Director, Sabrina Linn, Curator, as well as Vogelpark Marlow, Simon Bruslund, Species Conservation Curator.


+++Mrs. Milagros Ormeno ill+++

In mid-January, SPHENISCO received the bad news that Señora Milagros Ormeno, her young daughter Mikayla, and her husband Helbert were sick with Corona. All three have symptoms, the daughter currently, after previously strong symptoms, still has some, but the least of all three family members. At the moment it is completely unclear how the infections will proceed. We hope for the best for everyone in the family.


+++Sea and Coast Contaminated+++

On January 15th, 1.2 million liters of oil flowed into the sea off the coast of Peru and washed up on beaches. The disaster was caused by the Spanish company, Repsol. The oil spread in the sea and on 21 beaches from Callao to Santa Rosa, 30 kilometers north of Lima. The full extent of the damage was initially unclear. "We've found a lot of dead birds and fish, of course, but the danger goes beyond that," said marine biologist Yuri Hooker. "The oil drifts out into the open sea and sinks to the seabed," causing irreparable damage to fauna and flora and thus to the marine ecosystems of the Humboldt Current. Distinctive information regarding the destroyed and damaged fauna and flora does not yet exist. The penguin colony on the island of Pachacamac, (located off the southern districts of Lima) is not affected. 

According to initial estimates, 1,800 square kilometers of beach and 7,139 square kilometers of sea are contaminated. Experts assume that the damage will last for years. In addition, fishermen's guilds and traders' associations estimate that, because of the spill, more than 3,000 people have lost their jobs and livelihoods. 

 +++Environmental Education Southern Peru 2021+++ 

Despite illness , Señora Milagros Ormeno of Acorema sent a report at the end of January on the measures for environmental education from December 2020 to December 2021. (see "Environmental Education in Peru 2021" on this page).



The petition "Humboldt Penguins Finally Need Protection!" has been running for about 3 months and has so far found 94,449 supporters (as of February 3rd). Honestly, we were expecting more support. We know little about how well important partners have been able to mobilize, as we have received little feedback on this.                                                             

SPHENISCO is well connected in Chile. Our employee Karen Quezada personally wrote to 1,000 contacts in Chile and advertised via Instagram and Facebook to sign the petition. In Chile, however, the petition is currently in strong competition with many other important initiatives. In the context of drafting of the new Constitution, many groups are mobilizing for numerous issues to be considered in the Constitution. Karen Quezada plans to make another attempt after the change of government on March 11th. 

SPHENISCO has agreed with "Save the Rainforest" to promote the petition through May. World Penguin Day on April 25th is a good opportunity to mention the petition and its great importance.                                            

The Gemeinschaft Deutscher Zooförderer e.V. (GDZ) actively promoted the petition early on. In addition, the SPHENISCO community was surprised with a generous donation at the end of the year. As if that were not enough, the community presented a new series of postcards, which also includes a card with a Humboldt penguin theme. Thank you very much for all this!


+++Editors for the website+++ 

The website is labor-intensive for authors, translators, and editors. Therefore, SPHENISCO is pleased that Meike Kagel from Bochum and Erich Greiner from Landau are strengthening the previous team – Stefan Görlitz (Müncheberg), Peter Radtke (Magdeburg), and the long-standing administrator Volker Eggert (Nuremberg).



As in previous years, SPHENISCO received many very large, large and small donations. SPHENISCO thanks the Zoofreunde Rostock, the Zoo Hoyerswerda, our member Münchener Tierpark Hellabrunn, the penguin friends Nadeschda Scharfenberg (Humboldt-Gymnasium Vaterstetten), once again Daniela Ritscher, Christian and Anja Koch from Baldham (Gymnasium Vaterstetten), Alfred Burgmayer (Humboldt-Gymnasium Vaterstetten),  Harald Uhl and Gudrun Hagerer-Uhl , Evelin Gundolf (reference - "Hilfe für die Humboldtpinguine"), Marion Zimmermann (Humboldt-Gymnasium Vaterstetten), Jürgen and Beate Elling, Michaela Polzschuster (Humboldt-Gymnasium Vaterstetten), and Doris Zwingel.

+++Species Protection Euro+++ 

Rostock Zoo has been a member of SPHENISCO for several years. Since last year, the zoo has also been funding the projects of the association within the framework of the species protection euro. It has thus contributed to the fact that SPHENISCO was able to significantly expand its activities in Chile and Peru in 2021. 

As of January 1st, 2022, Neumünster Zoo will also introduce the species protection euro. The park has been a member of SPHENISCO since 2017. 100% of the proceeds go to selected projects that the park has been supporting for years, including SPHENISCO. The director of the zoo, Verena Kaspari, says that "it is a matter close to her heart to make a contribution to the preservation of the natural breeding areas of the Humboldt penguin.  If I can't be as active as I would like, then I try to make at least such a contribution." Verena Kaspari herself is a founding member of SPHENISCO.                    


translated by Erich Greiner

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