The government of President Martín Vizcarra announced Monday that Peru will attempt to create a biological reserve in the Pacific Ocean by 2019. Environment Minister Fabiola Muñoz told foreign reporters in a press conference that the government will seek to create a reserve measuring 400 square miles (1,040 square km) designed to be flexible with both artisan fishing and oil companies.
The specific area mapped out by the Environment Ministry actually overlaps four existing oil blocks and would allow those companies extracting oil to continue on a regulated basis.
“The goal of creating this reserve isn’t to ban economic activity,” Muñoz said, according to Reuters. “It’s to create the conditions so that species can reproduce in the time of year they need.”
The proposed nature reserve will include Foca Island, Cabo Blanco beach in El Ñuro, as well as the Punta Sal and bank of Máncora reefs located in the Tumes and Piura regions. A document from the Environment Ministry presented at the conference showed these areas include breeding grounds turtles, humpback whales, and seals, among other marine species that should be better protected under the reserve.
It will likely take a presidential decree at the beginning of 2019 to enact the reserve.
Though Muñoz promised that fishermen’s rights will not be infringed upon, there will likely be more environmental studies and regulations put in place to limit the amount of species or areas fished.
She pointed out that this is the same marine reserve project proposed a few years ago under the Ollanta Humala administration under the name “Mar Pacifico Tropical,” but she added that the administration did not take the appropriate steps to ensure it was carried out successfully.