Blog Post

Using Traditional Ecological Knowledge to Inform the Management of Chile’s Large Marine Protected Areas

By Carlos F. Gaymer and Alan M. Friedlander

Chile has created several large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs) around their offshore archipelagos. These islands have cultural and ecological connections to the broader insular Pacific and by protecting these unique ecosystems, Chile has established itself as a global leader in marine conservation. To help develop effective management plans for the Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park and the Rapa Nui Multiple-Uses Marine Protected Area, the Millennium Nucleus for Ecology and Sustainable Management of Oceanic Islands (ESMOI) at Universidad Católica del Norte organized a short course on marine conservation and management of LSMPAs for the Rapa Nui Sea Council and the key actors that will take part in the Juan Fernández Sea Council, and who are in charge of the administration of the LSMPAs of the Easter Island and Juan Fernández Ecoregions. The purpose of this course was to build local capacity for administration of these areas and was divided in two days, focusing on:

  • Conservation of Pacific oceanic island marine ecosystems from the local perspective. Management and administration of LSMPAs in a global context.

The course highlighted the advantages and challenges of LSMPAs, and specifically, the experience of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), and how Native Hawaiian participation in the management and administration of this iconic World Heritage site has greatly improved its effectiveness. The mini-course was well received by the Rapa Nui and Juan Fernandez councilors, and there was an active discussion on how lessons learned from Hawaiʿi and other parts of the world can be adapted to the local social-ecological context of the Rapa Nui and the Juan Fernández islands.

Counselors of the Rapa Nui Sea Council and key stakeholders of the future Juan Fernández Sea Council appreciated the opportunity to learn from their colleagues in Hawaii and were very inspired to face the future challenges of their LSMPAs. The event was very moving and was also seen as an opportunity to strengthen relationships among Pacific Islands communities. Future mutual exchanges were proposed as a way of collaborating in the implementation of LSMPAs, a critical issue for their success.

Course presenters included Alan Friedlander (Chief Scientist of National Geographic Pristine Seas), Aulani Wilhelm (Senior Vice President for Oceans at Conservation International), Athline Clark (Superintendent PMNM), Kalani Quiocho (Native Hawaiian Program Specialist PMNM), Gonzalo Cid (International Activities Coordinator, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA), Brad Kaʻaleleo Wong (Program Manager, OHA, PMNM) and Hōkū Kaʻaekuahiwi Pousima (Natural Resources Management Specialist, PMNM), and was moderated by Carlos F. Gaymer (Director of ESMOI).


National Geographic Pristine Seas is an exploration, research and media project founded and led by National Geographic Explorer in Residence Enric Sala. The Pristine Seas team is comprised of determined scientists, policy experts and filmmakers who work to inspire the creation of protected areas where marine life can thrive—while ensuring effective management for years to come. Pristine Seas has helped to inspire the creation of 23 marine reserves, an area totalling over 6.5M square kilometers. Learn more at

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