With primary objectives to support animal rescue, clinical medicine and scientific investigation, an agreement to protect marine wildlife was signed between the National Service of Fisheries and Agriculture (Sernapesca) and the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Chile.
In October 2014 Sernapesca rescued a whale that had become entangled with fishing nets. One month later the government released eight Magellanic penguins that had been rescued from an oil spill in Quintero.
Every year Sernapesca, under the authority of its Rescue Units, performs hundreds of rescues while working under the law that protects marine wildlife.
“As Sernapesca we have a fundamental public role to protect aquatic species. The rescue and rehabilitation of these protected species is mandated by law, and we comply with this mandate to protect the biological resources of this country,” said Ms. Alicia Gallardo, Assistant Manager of Aquaculture, who represented the Chief of Sernapesca, Mr. Jose Miguel Burgos, in the ceremony and who signed the agreement.
Assistant Manager Alicia Gallardo, a veterinarian from the University of Chile, explained that in order to protect these aquatic species, Sernapesca requires specialized technical assistance, because many times stranded animals have a variety of complex illnesses. In this context, specialized veterinary attention is often required to evaluate the causes of mortality or illness, and to take preventative measures in the future.
“We count on professionals that have an expertise in the rescue process. We work with rehabilitation centers that are fundamental in the recovery of these animals, but we didn’t have the veterinary medical attention associated with the process, and without this support the strandings may repeat themselves. This is fundamental support that will be provided by the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Chile,” said Alicia Gallardo.
The Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Professor Santiago Urcelay, highlighted the necessary link between the state, public policy, and the University of Chile, emphasizing the role of the public and the vision of the country that Casa de Bello has developed.
The Agreement on Veterinary Support for Protected Aquatic Species will last for 5 years, and will support the rescue, diagnostics, and investigation of aquatic wildlife that suffer from lesions or illnesses stemming from either natural or human causes.
This agreement will allow investigators to determine the precise reasons that these strandings are occurring. Specialists at the Faculty of Veterinary Science will perform exams and medical diagnostics on stranded animals to prevent these strandings from repeating, and to protect all marine wildlife.
SERNAPESCA AND THE RESCUE OF MARINE ANIMALS
In 2013 Sernapesca created the Protected Aquatic Species Rescue and Conservation Unit, specifically focused on stranding events and protected or threatened aquatic species. The goal of the Unit is to rescue stranded animals and return them to the wild.
As an example, during 2013 Sernapesca responded to a total of 302 strandings along the coast of Chile that affected 577 animals. Of these, 58 animals were able to be transferred to rescue centers, and 66 others received primary care and were released back into the wild.
The species most frequently involved in rescues are penguins and sea lions. The zones in which the majority of the strandings occur are: Valparaíso, Concepción and Puerto Montt. The majority of the animals are sea lions affected directly or indirectly by human factors; penguins and sea turtles follow as the three most affected groups.