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.