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Autení Island


Conservation benefit: New 772-square-mile permanent marine protected area

Community benefit: Solar-powered waste management center

Date Approved: 06.2019


This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

Autení is a small island in the Sea of Chiloé, in southern Chile, a region of great biodiversity. Blue whales, the largest animals in the world, are seen there, as are critically endangered right whales and humpback whales. Sea lion and fur seal colonies cover rocky outcrops; Peale’s dolphins and the endemic Chilean dolphin ply the waters. More than 200 species of birds are found in the Chiloé Archipelago, including the endemic Pincoya storm petrel and Magellanic penguins.

The indigenous community of Autení Island is leading an effort to get to the government to create a large, permanent protected area in the Sea of Chiloé. Currently, the area has no protection.
This type of MPA is designed to benefit indigenous people, and the Mapuche-Huilliche communities would be deeply involved in its management. The proposed management plan calls for better fishing practices and a limit on overall fishing. It would also forbid new salmon farms, a key source of pollution. Ships of the Fisheries Service and the navy would patrol the area; indigenous artisanal fishermen would report violations.

As on many small islands, handling household and business waste on Autení is a serious problem. Salmon and mussel farming operations create plastic waste, and household garbage is also a problem. The community requested a Seacology grant to attack the waste disposal problem on Autení and nearby Navahue Island. A grant will fund an integrated waste management system, consisting of trash collection points, training for community members, and a chipping machine powered by electricity from solar panels. From the island facility, compacted waste will be taken to a mainland recycling and disposal center.

Project Updates

June 2020

The shredding machine has been shipped to the island, and a storage building for the waste management center has been built, on schedule.

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December 2019

The project has now received international recognition. The coordinator was invited to present during COP25 in Madrid (the annual global climate change conference) about the creation of the Marine Area for Native Peoples and the waste management project. This honor has increased pride in the community.

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November 2019

The project is off to an excellent start and is on schedule. Materials for the waste center were bought and shipped to the island, and construction began in November. It is expected to be completed by February 2020. Once it is, the community will acquire the solar energy kit, which should be installed in March.

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