Chile and the United States declared huge new marine reserves on Monday at the start of a major conference in Chile on protecting the world's oceans and fisheries.
Chile opened the Our Ocean conference by declaring a 243,630-square-mile (631,368-square-kilometer) sanctuary around Easter Island in the Pacific off its eastern coast.
The area is a source of food in the vast expanse of the ocean and a spawning ground for tuna, shark, marlin and swordfish and a food source for the Rapa Nui people of the island.
It joins reserves declared by the United States, Britain and New Zealand off the US Pacific Islands, Pitcairn and the Kermadecs, as areas protected from the depredations of unregulated fishing.
President Michelle Bachelet announced the plan to warm applause from international delegates and a traditional song from a Rapa Nui group.
"We commit to the creation of protected areas around the Rapa Nui islands," said the Socialist leader, using the territory's Polynesian name.
Charitable institutions the Pew Charitable Trusts and The Bertarelli Foundation welcomed the decision, which they said would protect 27 endangered species and the people who fish there.
"The Easter Island park protects one of the last near-pristine ocean wildernesses on Earth and one that holds great cultural, religious and economic importance to the Rapa Nui people," said Joshua Reichert of Pew.
Chile is hosting Our Ocean in the picturesque Pacific port city of Valparaiso, a second annual day-long get-together for states and foundations to pledge support for the marine ecosystem.
US President Barack Obama addressed the meeting in a video message to announce two new "National Marine Sanctuaries" in the United States.
An 875-square-mile (2,300-square-kilometer) area of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin that holds dozens of historic wrecks will be protected, US officials said.
Mallows Bay on the Potomac River in Maryland, a tidal wetland and a graveyard for scuttled warships since the Revolutionary War, will also become a reserve.
"And, in the coming months, I will look for even more opportunities to protect our waters," Obama said.
"We will leave our children a planet as full of possibilities as the one we inherited."
Several more countries and foundations are expected to pledge funds and propose initiatives to fight pollution, overfishing and the acidification of the ocean by carbon emissions.