Buenos Aires — Argentina is planning its first marine and coastal park, which will seek to preserve and protect the unique biodiversity of the southern province of Chubut.
Inelegantly dubbed the Southern Patagonia Interjurisdictional Marine Coastal Park, the legislative proposal is a unique collaboration between provincial and national authorities, who are expected to split an estimated 320,000 dollars a year in maintenance costs.
The Park will cover 600 square km of ocean and 200 square km of land, including some 40 islands along the south Atlantic coast.
Penguins, killer whales, dolphins, sea elephants, sea lions, various whale species and other ecologically and economically important species, are the focus of measures that seek to strike a balance between preservation and sustainable use.
In some restricted areas, for example, fishing and tourism will be promoted and developed. Species like the ilex squid, king prawn and hake, important on the international market, and other species for sport fishing, including snook, salmon and shark, are of particular interest, though biologists warn that overfishing and oil tanker routes passing nearby are a cause for concern.
Additionally, the imperial shag, or cormorant (Phalacrocorax atriceps), is the source of the guano industry — bird excrement used as fertilizer.
In other areas, authorities will work to protect the natural resting, feeding and breeding ground of several migratory animals, the Magellanic Penguin, and the habitat of endangered species like the white-headed steamer duck.
An initiative of the Natural Patagonia Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society, which has been working since 2001 to protect this special area called the San Jorge Gulf, the park’s final management plan has yet to be decided.
Authorities are hopeful, however, having seen successful precedents in Chubut and Tierra del Fuego.