WWF award recognises Argentina’s ocean protection efforts
The four new marine protected areas (MPAs) - formally announced at a event sponsored by WWF at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) now underway in Japan – will cover over 580,800 ha of the south-west Atlantic Ocean, extending along Argentina’s coast.
“As a marine ecologist, the creation of new marine protected areas is one of my main challenges,” said Dr. Gandini. “Our achievements of the last two years, with the creation of these new marine parks, show the strong commitment of the Argentine Government and myself to include MPAs in our national protected areas system.”
Less than one per cent of Argentina’s waters are currently protected. The MPAs announced today increase the area of Argentine waters under MPAs to over 1,360,800 ha and represent a key step towards the country’s ambition to establish an effectively managed, fully-representative network of MPAs spanning 10,000,000 ha - more than 10% of the country’s waters.
A further MPA will come into effect in 2011, and along with the four MPAs announced today, the area of Argentine waters under MPAs will be doubled.
“We applaud Argentina’s leadership in establishing the new marine protected areas,” said Pablo Herrera, Conservation Director of Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina. “The MPAs represent a major step forward in efforts to conserve one of the richest marine areas on Earth.”
The Patagonian south-west Atlantic and adjacent Southern Ocean are one of the last relatively well preserved, large marine systems on our planet, home to rich and abundant marine life. Argentina’s waters support valuable commercial fisheries, such as hake and squid, and important marine fauna migrate back and forth between the Southern Ocean and Argentina’s waters, including the southern right whale, albatross, seals and penguins.
In 1934, Argentina’s National Parks Administration pioneered the establishment of protected areas in Latin America. However, coastal and marine national parks were not established in the country until 2004, when the first national coastal park, Monte León, was created with financial support from Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina.
“We hope the WWF award today will spur on Argentina to accelerate the establishment of marine protected areas in the country’s waters, critical to ensuring healthy, productive marine life and the livelihoods of dependent communities”, added Herrera.
WWF is calling on parties to the CBD to commit to a Representative Protected Areas scheme covering at least 20 per cent of land, coast and high seas areas respectively for 2020. Currently, some 13% of terrestrial areas and 6% of coastal areas are protected, while less than one per cent of the high seas - areas outside national jurisdiction - are protected.
About the new Marine Protected Areas
The four new Marine Protected Areas are zones of high biodiversity value, as described under the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence (http://patagoniansea.org), in which Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina and WWF participate. In a period of two to five years, according to the planning process developed by the NPA, effective management of these conservation units will be achieved.
• Patagonia Austral Inter-jurisdictional Coastal-Marine Park - The first MPA to be announced is an Inter-jurisdictional Marine Park, located in the Chubut Province, Patagonia, in northern San Jorge Gulf, with an area of 132,124ha. This area is already under implementation.
• Pingüino Island Inter-jurisdictional Park - In the province of Santa Cruz, a provincial law passed in August 2010, has started the process of creation of another Interjurisdictional Marine Park: Penguin Island, with an area of 170,000ha of sea and several islands, which extends from the western shore of the Chaffer Island (Puerto Deseado locality of reference) to Laura Bay.
• Makenke Inter-jurisdictional Marine Park - The third one is the Interjurisdictional Marine Park Makenke, in the south of Puerto San Julian, Santa Cruz province, with an area of 90,000ha.
• Banco Burdwood National Marine Park –Located at 54º 30 S and 60º 30` W, 54º 30 S and 59º 30 W, 54º 15 S and 60º 30 W, 54º 15 S and 59º 30 W, allow to protect an area with fish resources and covers 180,836 ha.