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INIDEP's Research Director, Claudia Carozza | Photo: Courtesy Revista Puerto

MPA Blue Hole: 'It is an area of ​​biological interest for us'

Click on the flag for more information about Argentina ARGENTINA
Friday, June 18, 2021, 04:00 (GMT + 9)

INIDEP's Research Director, Claudia Carozza, spoke about the institute's participation in the discussion about the designation of the so-called Blue Hole as a Marine Protected Area, its biological and geopolitical importance, as well as the limitations that exist.

At the end of last year, the deputy Graciela Camaño presented the bill for the Benthic Marine Protected Area “Blue Hole”, aimed at the scientific study and the conservation of nature, of a strict nature. It covers an area of ​​the platform outside the Exclusive Economic Zone, within the limits of the extended Argentine Continental Platform according to its new demarcation.
 
The proposal was taken by Pampa Azul and work began in this interdisciplinary body; INIDEP is part of the discussions, providing biological information and making proposals, through the National Parks MPA Organization Committee. To learn more about the characteristics of this area, its importance and the feasibility of its creation, Revista Puerto spoke with Claudia Carozza, Director of Research at INIDEP and coordinator of the institute team that works on this issue.
 
Revista Puerto (RP): Why did you decide to generate the Blue Hole MPA?
 
Claudia Carozza (CC): It was discussed in the interministerial sphere of Pampa Azul, it was consulted and everyone gave their opinion. It was concluded that the scientific argumentation was well documented, but it did not arise from a scientific study, the opinions were later.
 
RP: Do you consider it an area of ​​interest?
 
CC: It is not something new for us. What they call the Blue Hole is a strip of the Front of the Slope, which has particular characteristics, high productivity and diversity. It is the object of study for us from that point of view and for a long time. Marcelo Acha, together with Alberto Piola and Oscar Iribarne, is promoting a publication in which we participate, on this area of ​​the Front of the Slope. There, all the available scientific information will be gathered and there will be a panorama. We will provide all our data but they do not go beyond 200 miles, because the observers do not arrive and from the research campaigns, except for squid that makes a few sets outside the Exclusive Economic Zone, we do not have information on the proposed area.
 
RP: What would be protected in that area?
 
CC: Actually, the proposal is benthic, from the fisheries information there is no need to protect that area because we do not have data, we do have all the data on what happens from 200 miles inland. Between the limits of the marine area and the contiguous hake closed area, there is a strip where the fleet goes fishing. There it is ecologically important because of the underwater canyons, because of the cold water corals, it is an object of conservation, as the MPAs are conceived. In this case it does not arise as a need to protect a compromised species, it is a more environmental and geopolitical issue.
 
RP: What information is available?
 
CC: In that area we have information on several tides that the Spanish oceanographic institute has made, they have a very complete report on that area. It is concentrated in that area bordering our 200-mile Spanish fleet.
 
RP: What are they going to look for there?
 
CC: Hake, haddock, squid. The report is based on thirteen tides or campaigns basically. That is the information we have.
 
RP: Is there more information than that in Argentina?
 
CC: Only what was done by Spain. Although the project is in the Chamber of Deputies, it passed through Pampa Azul, on the other hand in the ad hoc group they are meeting to provide information, it is not that the issue is closed, much less, there is a long way to go because we do not know much of the area. In November we will do a campaign with the Angelescu, it was scheduled a few years ago and could not be done, and now with funding from Pampa Azul, which defined it as a priority area of ​​study, it will be done.
 
    
 
RP: Would it make sense to pass the law this year with so little information?
 
CC: Actually, because of how the MPAs are defined, you must have all the objects, the studies, there is a procedure. It is an environmental measure, the face of the slope that would be one of the ends of the marine area, is biologically very important for the species involved in that sector. On the other hand, there is a commitment from Argentina to cover a higher percentage of MPAs and this makes geopolitical sense. What I see as positive is that it could provide a framework to intensify studies in the area because now it is the object of study, from a scientific point of view it is a favorable situation to generate actions that lead us to intensify research in the area. Perhaps we would like an MPA to be conceived in another way, but in this case it is almost everything outside our jurisdiction, where we have practically no presence of our fleet, I see it as an opportunity. INIDEP has planned a new research vessel to go to these areas.
 
RP: The project determines that the AMP would be strict and although it claims to pursue benthic protection, the strict nature would prevent the passage of ships that do not touch the bottom with their gear.
 
CC: Yes, even though the project has already gone to Congress, there is still a lot to discuss and define. That is what the ad hoc group is for and it is likely that strict zones will be redefined. For us it is an ecologically important area and from that point we are approaching it. The monitoring was also a discussion because it must be guaranteed that we will be able to take care of it, carry out research, control and surveillance.
 
Image: Revista Puerto
 
RP: In fact, there is already a claim from the scientific community of the lack of monitoring of Yaganes and Banco Burdwood.
 
CC: Yes, they are talking about all these issues, planning, seeing with the boats that we have who can go to those areas. At the moment we have the boats affected by other issues, except the one that we will do as the Blue Hole, which was already on our schedule. Our commitment can go so far and in the southern campaigns we will try to get closer to Burdwood where the management plan for the area has to be put in place, which is not strict, because we will be affected shortly.
 
RP: The area called Blue Hole that is intended to be converted into an MPA is delimited within the presentation of the limits of the continental shelf made by Argentina. But were they analyzed by the International Commission for the Determination of the Continental Shelf? Do we have jurisdiction over the seabed in that area?
 
CC: In the evaluation of the feasibility of the project and its delimitation, the competent areas of the Foreign Ministry are intervening, including the Legal Counsel, which is the one that decides on these issues. The project reinforces the sovereign interests of the country on the Extended Platform that was approved last year, the UN recognizes until resolution 481 and to the south is pending resolution. But by national law it is the entire Argentine Continental Shelf.
 
Map of Pampa Azul
 
RP: Is INIDEP in a position to cope physically and materially with the work that requires incorporating a new study program?
 
CC: As we are, no, we are all very overloaded. INIDEP is in all discussion forums, we are called and we are participants. Now we are working on increasing the scientific endowment, and the argument is the new issues in which we are involved and they run through all the programs; our fundamental function is to advise on the management of resources. We are having weekly meetings with the Ministry of Public Administration and it has already been projected that there should be many more. The demand increases and we have to feed the machinery, today we are limited.

Author: Karina Fernández / Revista Puerto

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