Newsletter +++ August September 2021 +++


+++Decision pro Dominga.

The Environmental Impact Assessment Commission (COEVA) of the Coquimbo Region approved the Dominga project of Andes Iron on 11 August. "Defensa  ambiental" and "Alianza Humboldt" had already organized a signature campaign, as well as a demonstration in front of the building of the regional government in La Serena. In the weeks following the decision, many organizations and institutions – including state ones – protested against COEVA’s decision. A particularly prominent example is the open letter of Chilean scientists in the online edition of the Magazine “Science” in mid-September (see article, “Extractivist Policies Harms Chile's Ecosystems” - ed. Jennifer Sills).

In response to the decision, Defensa ambiental  and Alianza Humboldt announced a series of events that they have realised over the past few weeks. Here is a small selection: 4 September, Cultural Day "Color" in Caleta  Hornos; September 10, Festival Música la vida, a livestream event; 25 September, in the lecture series Route Humboldt, an episode titled, "The Changos  - Aborigines of the Humboldt Archipelago"; 25/26 September, legal advice for residents of coastal villages. In this workshop, a lawyer informed the residents about the decision of the Environment Commission in favor of Andes Iron and encouraged them to make submissions called "Observaciones". The deadline for submissions is 25 October. (see also article " No to Ecocide - #NoaDominga",  15 August 2021).

+++Greenpeace Protest against decision.

Greenpeace Chile, also a member of Alianza Humboldt, has been calling since September 27 with the slogan "#NOADOMINGA-protejamos  este  santuario" to protest directly to the Commission for Environmental Impact Assessment against its decision (of August 11) So far,56,829 Chileans have joined the protest (as of Oct. 7). Submissions to the Commission can only be made by Chilean citizens.

+++Oceana's appeal against decision.

On 29 September, the Court of Appeal in La Serena authorized the NGO Oceana’s appeal to intervene against the decision of the Environmental Impact Assessment Commission.

+++Research for survival.

SPHENISCO has signed a contract with the University of Andrés Bello, Santiago  for a six-year research project. Initially, the agreement applies to the period from southern spring 2021 to southern summer 2023. (s,a., Artikel "Research for Survival" of 4 June 2021). Research will begin in mid-October.

The preparations are truly "global". Like Karel Gott once did, the penguin researchers could sing "Once around the world and the bags full of ... GPS-Logger". The researcher Dr. Mattern, New Zealand, ordered research equipment on behalf of Sphenisco from the Italian company  TechnoSmart  Europe, in Rome. The company sent the loggers to the Chilean researcher Dr. Thiel, who was working in Kiel at the time. In mid-September, Dr. Thiel took the equipment with him on his return flight to Coquimbo in Chile. Technosmart Europe's invoice went to SPHENISCO in Landau.

+++Diving training.

Nancy Duman is currently preparing a training course "Safety in Diving", in the coastal villages of the municipality of La Higuera. In the training, French experts teach Chilean professional divers how to protect themselves from accidents, and what measures they can take in the event of an accident. The training will take place from 29 October to 7 November in the villages of Chañaral,  Choros and Chungungo for divers native to the region. It is not certain that the initiative will succeed, due to the current pandemic regulations (7 days quarantine required).

+++Video conference with Oceana.

On September 27, Nancy Duman, and Gabriele and Werner Knauf spoke in a video conference with Liesbeth van der Meer, Director of the NGO, Oceana. The NGO and SPHENISCO have been working very well together for a very long time. The representatives of the organizations did not have personal contact. Since visits to Chile are not possible in the near future, the discussion served to get to know each other and to exchange perspectives for future cooperation to protect the Humboldt Archipelago.

+++Pandora Papers

In early October, Chilean investigative online portals Ciper and LaBot reported that President Piñera was involved in offshore deals involving Dominga shares in the British Virgin Islands. This news not only triggers a wave of protests, it also leads to the first political and legal measures.   Alianza Humboldt calls on the authorities to finally end the Dominga project, to acknowledge that the approval of the Cruz Grande port has expired, as construction did not begin within 5 years, and to finally put the Humboldt Archipelago under protection.

The Pandora Papers have revealed clauses according to which the 3rd installment of the purchase price for the Dominga shares was made subject to the condition that no exclusion zone, national park or nature reserve be established in the area of the mine and the planned port. It outrages many people that decisions in this matter depended on the then President of the Republic, Sebastián Piñera, who was thus directly involved in the business.


+++Environmental education by Acorema.

Since 2010, the NGO Acorema has been organizing and developed the educational project "Queremos  vivir  – we want to live". The last 2 years took place under the conditions of the pandemic, which led, among other things, to a loss of time. The team led by Señora Milagros Ormeno is therefore extending the project phase by 2 months to be able to complete agreed-upon measures. Activities with personal contact such as training courses and workshops could, for the most part, not be carried out. Acorema compensated for this handicap with virtual offers (s.a., Article "Environmental Education Despite Pandemic", of 4 January 2021). The changed way of working led to new materials and media being created. For example, a preschool brochure entitled "Knowing and Protecting our Ocean with the Humboldt Penguin" was developed, and the website of Acorema began to be renewed in order to be able to integrate virtual educational materials. SPHENISCO is always impressed by the consistent and creative work of the "Team Milagros" and plans to continue this proven work in the coming year.

+++Research on the Ballestas Islands

The scientific investigation of the breeding success on the Ballestas Islands, southern Peru should actually have begun in August. Although all the necessary equipment was procured, the required approvals have been delayed. For example, researchers need a license to run a drone. To do this, they had to complete a course and pass a final exam. After 14 days, the Ministry of Transport and Communications usually issues the license. In reality however, the researchers waited 45 days.  After the document finally arrived, Acorema applied for a research permit at the "National Protected Area for Islands, Islets and  Puntas  Guaneras". For more than 30 days now, the researchers have been waiting for an answer. They will follow up and start researching as soon as possible. 

 E U R O P E

+++Species protection euro Zoo Rostock. 

At the beginning of this year, Rostock Zoo also introduced a Species Protection Euro and, among other projects, also supports the protection of the Humboldt Penguin. The funds will enable SPHENISCO to expand its education and public relations in the Coquimbo region of northern Chile. This region is known to be of central importance for the survival of this penguin species, as it is home to the habitat and breeding grounds of around 80% of the remaining global population of the Humboldt Penguin. The marine region has been at great risk for many years due to new large-scale projects. For many years, our colleague Nancy Duman and her colleagues have been continuously designing and organizing public meetings, campaigns (e.g., creating small gardens, art and music events), seminars, workshops and conferences, maintaining contacts with those responsible, and writing articles for the media. Through the long-term and intensive work, a large network like Alianza Humboldt was created. Even in the current situation – with elections on November 21 in Chile, a broad protest movement against the decision of the Environmental Commission, and the Pandora Papers revealing manipulations of the president's family - the members of Alianza are very active and are increasingly being heard by the media.

+++Species Protection Day Karlsruhe Zoo.                           

On 21 September, the now-traditional Species Protection Day, a big event, took place at Karlsruhe Zoo, where around 30 institutions presented themselves via information booths. SPHENISCO, represented by the 2nd Chairwoman Christina Schubert, and the former zoo volunteer and penguin friend Chantal Trauth, were of course, also there again. With the “3G” rule (meaning either recovered, vaccinated, or tested) and slightly longer distances between information booths, Karlsruhe Zoo has again organized a great event. SPHENICSO’s booth was placed at the enclosures of the Humboldt and Magellan penguins, and with the best zoo weather and very good visitor numbers, the representatives of SPHENISCO were pleased about the public’s lively interest. In some cases, more intensive discussions could be held about the threat to the Humboldt penguins and the work of the association. In some cases, both small and large zoo guests were amazed by exhibits such a penguin egg, a prepared penguin skull and penguin feathers, or enjoyed sales items such as DVDs, postcards or penguin wine (a white burgundy). SPHENISCO was also pleased about the many (smaller) donations. Eye-catchers and "bestsellers" were once again the mini penguins lovingly crocheted by Chantal Trauth. (Author Christina Schubert)

 +++Donation from Parc Merveilleux.                                                                         

SPHENISCO now has a number of "loyal" supporters. This includes the Parc Merveilleux. The animal and leisure park, at the municipality of Bettembourg in Luxembourg, has once again supported the work of SPHENISCO with a generous donation.                           


translated by Erich Greiner

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