Chile creates huge new marine reserves in Pacific waters

Chile announced on Monday that it will create two new marine conservation parks in its Pacific waters.

President Michelle Bachelet announced the new reserves, which are rich in marine life, at the opening of an international conference on the protection of the oceans.

One will include Easter Island, 3,800 km (2,360 miles) off Chile's coast.

A second park will be created around the Juan Fernandez archipelago to help rebuild depleted fish stocks.

Together they will cover more than a million sq km where commercial fishing will be banned.

The news was greeted warmly by environmentalists and the Rapa Nui, the indigenous inhabitants of Easter Island.

Joshua S. Reichert, who leads environment initiatives at the Pew Charitable Trusts, called it "an important step toward establishing the world's first generation of great parks in the sea".

Ms Bachelet said the move would help protect their waters from illegal exploitation while preserving ancient fishing traditions.

She called the plan "Chile's contribution to the ocean, so that our children and grandchildren may enjoy what we are doing here".

She was addressing the second annual Our Ocean international conference in Vina del Mar, which Chile is hosting.

At the conference, the US also announced new marine sanctuaries in the tidal waters of Maryland and in Lake Michigan.

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