Press Release

Indigenous Peoples Seeking to Protect Ancestral Territory in Chile Featured in Nat Geo Documentary Film Trailer

The upcoming documentary film “Canoeros: Memoria Viva” produced by National Geographic Pristine Seas focuses on the Kawésqar and Yagán peoples demands to remove salmon farms from the Kawésqar National Reserve in Chile

January 14, 2021—The trailer for the documentary "Canoeros: Memoria Viva" premiered today on the National Geographic Society’s YouTube channel. The upcoming documentary follows the expedition to the Kawésqar National Reserve in southern Chile by National Geographic Pristine Seas in partnership with members of the Kawésqar and Yagán peoples.

The goal of the expedition was to explore and document the Kawésqar National Reserve, combining scientific and biocultural knowledge, to support the Indigenous peoples who seek to protect their ancestral territory from the threat of the salmon farming industry. Despite being a protected area, the Kawésqar National Reserve currently has 67 concessions for salmon farming and an additional 80 concession requests are currently pending.

“The Kawésqar National Reserve, a place with extraordinary and unique ecosystems, is already suffering serious impacts from salmon farms. I hope that the new government issues a ban on this harmful activity inside this protected area of ​​enormous ecological and cultural value,” said Alex Muñoz, National Geographic Pristine Seas director for Latin America.

Among the most serious impacts of salmon farming documented in Patagonia are the massive escapes of salmon, which are invasive and carnivorous species, the extensive use of antibiotics and anti-parasites, the destruction of the seafloor, and the loss of marine species such as whales, dolphins and sea lions inside salmon farms.

“Due to the serious threat posed by the advance of salmon farming in our territory, it is necessary for the Kawésqar reserve to be reclassified as a National Park. It is the only way to effectively protect both nature and the living culture that is contained in this territory that is part of the Kawésqar Wæs”, stated Leticia Caro on behalf of the Kawésqar Communities for the Defense of the Sea.

During the Pristine Seas expedition, scientific studies were conducted describing how the Kawésqar National Reserve is a top priority area for conservation due to its high degree of endemism, pristine fjords, glaciers, temperate rainforests, ocean habitats and the largest ice field outside of the polar regions. Its main short-term threats are salmon farming and climate change.

The report published by National Geographic Pristine Seas highlights that the traditional knowledge of the Kawésqar indigenous people is strongly supported by scientific findings.

The Kawésqar communities for the Defense of the Sea are composed of the Ata’p communities, Residents of Rio Primero, Inés Caro, and Family Groups Nomades del Mar.

The complete feature film Canoeros: Memoria Viva (Canoeists: Living Memory) will be released on the National Geographic Channel in select markets.

About National Geographic Pristine Seas

National Geographic Pristine Seas is a global program that combines exploration, research, strategic communications, education, policy and economic work, and community engagement to help create world-class marine reserves and ensure their affective management. Pristine Seas has helped to inspire the creation of 25 marine reserves, an area totalling over 6.5 million square kilometers. Learn more at

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About National Geographic Society

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