A BLACK HOLE IN THE BLUE SEA

"In the hypothetical case that (the Project) is approved in the Senate of the Nation, it will cause very serious damage to Argentina, in addition to a very high cost disproportionate to the unlikely benefit.

22 de July de 2022 20:40

"The scientific prerequisites required by the FAO (2012) to establish a Marine Protected Area were not met," argues Lerena.

Days passed in the Chamber of Deputies of the Nation, the project of the representative Graciela Camaño to create the “Agujero Azul Benthic Protected Marine Area” promoted by the National Executive Branch obtained half a sanction. It is an area of 148,000 km2; an area equivalent to ten Malvinas of the continental shelf located beyond 200 miles from the Argentine coast; under the pretext of eliminating illegal fishing, preserving the marine environment, contributing to the economy of the fishing sector and, the project states, reaffirming national sovereignty, in addition to guarding the ARA San Juan Submarine. All arguments, based erroneously and inconsistently, on a project that, for the majority of Argentines - who live with their backs to the sea - and the complexity it entails, is incomprehensible and, even more so, when the deputies are invited to join “a crusade” for the protection of ecology. and the remains of the submarine “ARA San Juan”.

But, this project is not innocuous and, in the hypothetical case that it is approved in the Senate of the Nation, it will cause very serious damage to Argentina, in addition to a very high cost disproportionate to the unlikely benefit. A Blue Hole Benthic MPA is not needed, since 17 articles of Law 24,922 provide the Enforcement Authority and INIDEP with sufficient tools to manage and make fishing sustainable throughout the marine territory and its continental shelf. Yes If we want to protect the Submarine and the continental shelf, it would have been enough: 1) a Law that declares the place a National Marine Monument and, a few miles around where the remains of the Submarine ARA San Juan and the 44 crew members of this vessel are located, in accordance with what is established in article 5, paragraph b) of Law 27,037 and, 2) A Resolution of the Undersecretary of Fisheries with approval of the Federal Fisheries Council that prohibits and/or does not authorize Fishing in the area to be determined with bottom trawl nets or of drift, beyond 200 miles and up to 350 miles, with sufficient jurisdiction and powers according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and Laws 24,922 and 27,557 to seize and sanction national and foreign vessels that capture with these fishing gears. Making it clear that the jiggers that fish for squid and mid-water trawlers do not touch the seabed and therefore do not have any negative effect.
"The project has no legal-biological basis to prevent foreign fishing"
The project is fisheries unsustainable when it is given Reserve status “ on” ( above ) the platform and not “ in ” the platform, since this alone could generate restrictions on national fishing in the water courses, but not on the foreign vessels, because Argentina does not have jurisdiction over waters beyond 200 miles. Esteban Gaitan of INIDEP in this regard stated “… on November 4, 2020, the creation of a benthic MPA (on the seabed) in the sector was proposed. platform under Argentine administration with the category of Strict National Marine Reserve, which prohibits fishing in any of its forms” (“Challenges for scientific research on the Continental Shelf”, 10/4/2021), a position that we share.
From a geographical and diplomatic point of view, the project is unsuccessful , since it confuses the cardinal points and locates the hole in question " to the east by the limit of the Argentine EEZ and to the west by the 5,000 meter isobath" (sic) when It is precisely the other way around and, it advances in the south to parallel 47º30'S, which is an area disputed with the United Kingdom according to the UN Boundary Commission. All of this leads us to regret that the technicians on issues have not been listened to. marine and that the probable actions of whoever disputes that space are unpredictable. We cannot forget that the United Kingdom in 2011 unilaterally declared a Marine Protected Area of 1,070,000 km2 around the Georgia Islands and the South Sandwich Islands without Argentina take some action in this regard.
INIDEP specified: "there is a lack of sufficient scientific evidence...We will provide all our data, but it does not go beyond 200 miles...we do not know much about the area."
The previous scientific requirements demanded by the FAO (2012) to establish a Marine Protected Area were not met. The legislator contradictorily states that the slope sector of the area "includes a system of little-known underwater canyons but that would present characteristics of high biodiversity and a relevant ecological role» (sic), however, Andrés Loubet-Jambert (FIS, May 2, 2021) describes that « the so-called “high biodiversity” characteristics must be substantiated with current scientific studies to ensure what relevant ecological role they have, having "Take into account that the FAO indicates that the establishment of marine protected areas must be done on the basis of scientific information." Perhaps the scientist with the greatest responsibility in the country in terms of fisheries research, Ms. Claudia Carozza, Research Director of the National Institute of Fisheries Research and Development (INIDEP), stated: "there is a lack of sufficient scientific evidence...We will provide all our data, but They do not go beyond 200 miles...we do not know much about the area" and, when asked if INIDEP was in a position to physically and materially cope with the work, she stated: " As we are, no, we are all very overloaded...our fundamental function is advise on resource management » (Puerto Magazine, 6/17/21) . For his part, scientist Portela (2012/15) says: «The specific impact of benthic trawl fisheries in the area has not been quantified» The Environmental Consulting Firm Recilience also ruled that "to date it has not been reliably demonstrated in the proposal for the creation of this Marine Protected Area, what is the current level of impact of entropic activity on the seabed."
Nor is it true that Argentina is failing to comply with "the commitment of the Strategic Plan for Biological Diversity 2011-2020" , unless it is understood that the marine spaces around Georgia and South Sandwich are not under Argentine jurisdiction and it is ignored that in In 2011, the United Kingdom determined an ecological reserve there of 1,070,000 km2 that, together with the other occupied marine territories where fishing is prevented by national vessels, our country has a restricted area equivalent to 52% of its Exclusive Economic Zone, a prohibited percentage much higher than the commitment assumed, where foreign fleets illegally extract 250,000 tons of fish and mollusks without control.
On the other hand, the sector itself states that the supposed economic benefit is not weighed . The Inter-Chambers of the Fishing Industry (August/2021) expressed the productive, economic inconvenience and technical unsustainability of the project and, the Council of Fishing Companies wrote ( 2019): « There is not a single mention, not even tangentially, related to possible social or economic benefits... ».
I add that this project does not contribute anything to the “ country brand ”, since national fishing production accesses the most demanding markets in the world and, in turn, the Southwest Atlantic is recognized for its low marine pollution in relation to other fishing grounds. This Project doubles the official structures and will increase the costs of the State and would also require a multimillion-dollar investment to provide research and defense vessels that systematically survey the area, when today this Institute often has to resort to private contributions. to survey areas and migratory species of Argentina and the naval and security forces have serious difficulties in permanently controlling the vast Argentine sea.
Contrary to what was argued in the project, in no way will foreign illegal fishing be prevented, because Argentina cannot regulate water courses on the high seas to strangers, since the Sea Convention in its articles 87 and 116º specify that there is freedom of fishing for all States on the high seas. That is, the project has no legal-biological basis to prevent foreign fishing.

Regarding international strengthening and national sovereignty , the Blue Hole Marine Protected Area will facilitate the capture of foreign vessels with licenses granted in the Malvinas, with an effect similar to that agreed in 1990 that generated a Conservation Zone (FOCZ) east of the Malvinas and fishing in the Malvinas. This “Marine Protected Area” will complete a ring of protection for the Malvinas that since 2017 the British have established in all the overseas territories under their control, which currently reach 4 million km2.Argentina does not need to ratify its sovereignty over the continental shelf, since the Sea Convention in Art.

By Agenda Malvinas

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