Stop Destroying Chile’s Marine Ecosystems

Target: President Sebastián Piñera of Chile

Goal: Ban destructive fishing practices to protect Chile’s fragile marine ecosystems.

Off the coast of Chile are 118 seamounts, underwater mountains that are home to vibrant coral reefs and marine species unique to this part of the world. But these fragile habitats are being threatened by a destructive fishing practice known as bottom trawling, where a large, heavy net is scraped across the seafloor, leaving a barren wasteland in its wake.

Trawling is one of the most significant contributors to overfishing of the world’s oceans. The nets are indiscriminate, causing for the accidental entanglement of sea turtles and marine mammals such as sea lions. And without any fish to feed on the coral, the delicate balance of the ecosystem is upset and the coral reefs perish.

In 2009, Oceana, a marine conservation organization, estimated that only .09 percent of Chile’s seafood exports would have been affected by the total ban of trawlers around Chile’s 118 seamounts. And the protection of these ecosystems enhances the productivity of the fisheries that depend upon them. Banning trawlers will benefit Chile’s economy in the long run.

Chile has made important strides in recent years to protect its fragile marine ecosystems. In 2010, President Piñera announced a marine reserve of 150,000 square kilometers around Sala y Gómez island, an uninhabited island surrounded by a biodiverse chain of seamounts. Chile should declare itself a leader in ocean conservation by banning trawlers around all of its seamounts.

Chile’s seamounts are home to a diverse population of marine life, including species found nowhere else in the world. Tell President Piñera to ban trawling around all 118 Chilean seamounts so this fragile ecosystem can thrive.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Piñera,

The diverse marine habitat of Chile’s seamounts is being threatened by unsustainable fishing methods. Preserving these habitats will ensure the viability of the fisheries that depend on them in the long run.

Trawling is a destructive fishing method that accidentally traps sea turtles and other mammals, and leaves behind a barren wasteland. Oceana estimated that in 2009, only .09 percent of Chile’s seafood exports would be affected by the banning of trawlers from all 118 seamounts. It is a tiny weight to bear in exchange for healthy populations of fish to catch for many years to come.

You made great strides for ocean protection by creating a marine reserve around Sala y Gómez island. Banning trawlers from these seamounts would establish Chile as a leader in ocean conservation. Please stop trawlers from destroying these fragile ocean habitats.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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