On Monday, the Chilean government declared a 243,630-square-mile marine reserve off the eastern coast of Easter Island, according to Yahoo News. The announcement was made at the Our Ocean international marine protection conference in Valparaiso, Chile.
“The Easter Island park protects one of the last near-pristine ocean wildernesses on Earth,” Joshua Reichert, of Pew Charitable Trusts, told Yahoo.
At the same conference, President Barack Obama announced a 14-square-mile protected area off the coast of Maryland and an 875-square-mile protected area in Lake Michigan, according to the AP. Both of these new American marine sanctuaries are intended to protect historic shipwrecks, some of which provide habitats for endangered wildlife.
“Our economies, our livelihoods, and our food all depend on our oceans,” President Obama said in a video message shown at the conference, the AP reported. “Yet we know that our actions are changing them. Greenhouse gas emissions are making our seas warmer and more acidic. Marine pollution harms fish and wildlife, affecting the entire food chain. Illegal fishing depletes the world’s fisheries.”