Today, the Secretary for Malvinas Islands, Antarctica and South Atlantic of the Argentine Foreign Ministry, Daniel Filmus, took part in a high-level meeting convened by the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, to build support for and promote Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Antarctic waters.
During the virtual meeting, which gathered ministers and senior officials from fifteen countries, Filmus highlighted “Argentina’s firm policy aimed at protecting its marine ecosystems in the South Atlantic, where over 8% of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is currently covered by MPAs.”
He also referred to the bill, currently under discussion in the Argentine Congress, designed to protect marine diversity through the establishment of a new “Benthic Protected Maritime Area” in the zone known as Agujero Azul (Blue Hole), which has high primary productivity and an abundance of biological resources.
At the meeting, intended to showcase and make progress on this important environmental matter, which is a priority for the global political agenda and the Antarctic Treaty System, a joint declaration in support of Antarctic MPAs was adopted.
In 2018, Argentina and Chile put forward a proposal for an MPA in the Western Antarctic Peninsula and the Southern Scotia Arc, an area full of marine biodiversity that contains 75% of all Antarctic krill. Today, the area is seriously affected by human activity, such as fishing, and by the severe effects of climate change.
In this regard, Filmus placed emphasis on “the high-quality work done with Chile” and expressed “Argentina’s strong commitment to the CAMLR goals, particularly to the MPAs as a necessary tool for the protection of the fragile Antarctic ecosystem.”
There are currently three MPA proposals pending approval within the Area of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CAMLR), which covers the oceans surrounding Antarctica. The proposals for MPAs in East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea are co-sponsored by the European Union and its Member States along with Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.
The virtual meeting was also attended by the Foreign Ministers of Chile, Andrés Allamand, and Uruguay, Francisco Bustillo; the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry; and the Minister for Pacific and the Environment at the British Foreign Office, Zac Goldsmith, among others.