Legislator Mariana Zuvic (Photo: courtesy of Revista Puerto)
Harsh criticism of the deputy Mariana Zuvic to the Agujero Azul AMP project
Wednesday, May 25, 2022, 00:40 (GMT + 9)
The legislator is requesting a review of the bill presented by deputy Graciela Camaño. It raises the serious shortcomings in its content and encourages the writing of one that adjusts to reality so that its implementation achieves the desired effects. She warns about damages in the sovereignty dispute over the South Atlantic.
The deputy Marian Zuvic has elaborated a project through which she seeks to review the one presented by her peer Graciela Camaño, on the Agujero Azul Marine Protected Area. Through a document that bears her signature, she displays arguments to demonstrate the initiative's inability to fight against illegal or unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. She exposes the cutback maneuver that was applied on the surface destined for protection to benefit the oil companies and criticizes the absence of a budget destined for control and monitoring for a new AMP, indicating that these shortcomings make the project "an impracticable initiative." But she also maintains that its approval could have negative repercussions on the Argentine claim in the South Atlantic and erode future opportunities for effective protection of marine biological diversity within the area where it seeks to be located.
“Marine Protected Areas are one of the most suitable environmental management tools for protecting the sea. They limit exploitation activities such as fishings, and increase the resilience of ecosystems to threats such as climate change and pollution, while at the same time they can allow scientific and low-impact activities such as tourism”
, says Deputy Zuvic
. She maintains that it is necessary to continue with the efforts to expand the protected area of the Argentine Sea but that the project presented has "questionable aspects regarding effectiveness and applicability."
The main criticisms of Congresswoman Camaño's project are that it does not provide comprehensive protection of the ecosystem nor is it effective against illegal fishing; that she omits the existence of great difficulties for monitoring and governance; that there was no scientific or biological criterion for its delimitation; that no budget item is assigned to it and that an arbitrary cut was made that favors projects for the exploration and exploitation of offshore hydrocarbons. She also maintains that it would not be possible to reach 10% of AMP, as she says, and warns that it would have a "mirroring" effect with negative consequences regarding the claim of sovereignty; added to the fact that it can complicate the negotiations within the framework of the Biodiversity Convention Beyond National Jurisdiction of the United Nations.
Area proposed in the bill for the AMPB "Blue Hole" | The Strict Benthic Marine National Reserve ¨Agujero Azul ¨ covers an area of ??the Argentine Continental Shelf, outside the Exclusive Economic Zone, with limits defined to the north by the parallel of 42 ° 32 ¨ S, to the south by the parallel of 47 ° 30 ¨S, to the east by the limit of the Argentine EEZ and to the west by the 5,000 meter isobath defined in the official cartography of the Argentine Republic. The area is located entirely in the high seas zone, within the limits of the extended Argentine Continental Shelf according to its new demarcation established in Law No. 27557.
In developing the criticism, the deputy points out that the project will not have an effect on the fleet that carries out Illegal or Unreported Unregulated fishing activities in the South Atlantic, because it does not affect the water column. “In the proposal itself, it would be admitting that one of the main threats in the area would not be neutralized, nor would it have any real effects on it”, when referring to the benthic nature of the MPA.
She states that approximately 80% of the foreign fleet that operates in the area does so on squid, with high environmental impacts. But in addition, the almost 600 boats that operate at the peak of the season not only work in an unsustainable way, but also pollute with thousands of tons of waste dumped overboard, using slave labor and subsidized by their flag states. In this sense, she indicates that the creation of an MPA should comprehensively protect the ecosystem, and have a real effect on the impact of the largest of the IUU fishing fleets that operate in the area. One of the proposals is to ban bottom trawling in that area.
The Environmental Resilience Consultant proposed that the MPA Project, from the point of view of biodiversity conservation, distinguish between two different management categories. A Strict National Marine Reserve, comprising about 80% of the area (category contemplated for the entire sector considered in the current Bill), and a National Marine Reserve divided into two sectors, north and south, in which there is a plan fisheries management that appropriately regulates the exploitation in the areas in which most of the fishing operations linked to the bottom have been developed up to now.
Regarding the great difficulties to carry out surveillance and control actions on the Argentine Continental Shelf beyond the EEZ, she recognizes that our country has serious monetary and material limitations to cover the area. With overtones of reality, she states, at the same time, that "determining the type of activity carried out by a vessel during its fishing tasks will require, in addition to indications, operational verifications that require state-of-the-art equipment, expensive and non-existent in our country".
Regarding the absence of scientific criteria to delimit the MPA, the deputy cites the "Final Technical Report on the Identification of Areas of High Conservation Value" which indicates that the priority conservation area extends from meridian 61º 30' W, within the EEZ Argentina. She maintains that some experts consider that "the area should be recognized as part of the slope front and treated in an integral manner with said front." She points out that they have not explained the reasons why it has been left unprotected and proposes that "an extension of its conservation area be included, encompassing the entire area of biological importance recommended by science, which encompasses part of the Exclusive Economic Zone”.
Without a budget, MPAs only exist on paper, specialists point out; and so also understands the deputy. “One of the most worrying aspects of the project is that there is no mention of a budget allocation or the necessary resources to carry out monitoring, surveillance and control activities,” she says.
In a country with highly limited economic means, he considers that the annual cost of governance and monitoring should be analyzed, requiring it later in the national budget. "The existing MPAs in Argentina are already underfunded," she says, quoting the Director of the MPA of the National Parks Administration and proposes that an analysis be made of the resources available to achieve the effective fulfillment of the objectives and that they be include in the proposal.
Regarding the incompatibility of an AMP bordering an offshore exploration and exploitation area, Zuvic says: “It is clear that the project entails harmful consequences for the economic, environmental and sovereign interests of Argentina. It is enough to observe how they have cut 10% of the original AMP to benefit the oil lobby”, in reference to the “arbitrary” cut made to the original extension of the area of 164 thousand square kilometers.
"During the Plenary of Commissions, Deputy Camaño stated that a cut to 148,000 km2 was made at the request of the Secretary of Energy, due to the existence of tenders for offshore hydrocarbon exploration and exploration projects in the area," says Zuvic and It adds that in the case of an area with characteristics of high biodiversity, recognized in the very foundations of the initiative, this alteration "casts doubt on the purpose of the project and the effective protection that the ecosystem in question will have."
In another point, she indicates that with the creation of this AMP, the announced 10% (currently there is 8.4%) of protection would not be reached, given that the project does not include the spaces under the jurisdiction of the Argentine Republic of the Continental Platform.In addition, she considers that it should be analyzed how the exclusive protection of the seabed influences the percentages of conservation. She proposes here that a new calculation be made on the real percentage that would be protected.
The representative of Cambiemos puts on the table an issue that the bill overlooks: the scope of national jurisdiction over the extension of the Maritime Platform. "The Commission of the Outer Limit of the Continental Shelf (CLPC) has not made a definitive statement recommending the extension of the Argentine Continental Shelf to the South of Point RA-481 (Latitude 45º 68')" because they are spaces subject to controversy, recalls the deputy.
In this sense, she considers that by demarcating itself as an MPA under our supposed domain, "unevaluated and unpredictable consequences could be generated by other States, such as taking reactive measures applying the same formula within the disputed area." In relation to the mirroring effect, she recalls that, in 2012, unilaterally, the usurper government of the Islands declared as MPA more than one million square kilometers of the sea surrounding the South Georgia and Sandwich Islands. “This type of so-called soft power strategy is used by the UK to appear to be a champion of the environmental cause, while attempting to strengthen its sovereignty claims over occupied territories.”
In addition, she points out that, according to the project, any vessel with an Argentine flag will see its activities restricted if they affect the seabed designated by the AMP. However, "in the case of foreign vessels operating in the area of the Argentine Continental Shelf not recommended by the CLPC, said law may not be applicable." She then concluded that "there would be a differentiated application to the detriment of any national activity."
Note: The map shows the proposed marine sanctuary area for the South Sandwich Islands on the right and the waters of the South Georgia Islands on the left. Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, “South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands Marine Protected Area Enhancements, ”(accessed July 15, 2019), http://www.gov.gs/32110-2; IHO-IOC GEBCO Gazetteer of Undersea Feature Names, www.gebco.net; Greeninfo Network, September 25, 2018; SEZ of Marineregions.org; Topobathy Hillshade baselayer by ESRI; Land and Bathymetry by Natural Earth © 2019 The Pew Charitable Trusts
Finally, when referring to the difficulties that could be generated in the framework of the negotiations of the Convention on the Conservation of Biodiversity Beyond the National Jurisdiction of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), it indicates that the project in question could become a problem to reach a protection agreement that implies greater benefits for the country in the fight against IUU fishing.
The creation of the Blue Hole MPA including an area of the Argentine Continental Shelf, not recognized by UNCLOS or by third states, "could set a bad precedent for the possible creation through a process, in the short term, of a of effective conservation that protects not only the seabed but the entire water column, and that implies measurable changes in the intensity of exploitation in the area, with legal effects on all types of vessels and all flags”, she warns and proposes use the tools that the Convention can grant to create an MPA with a comprehensive scope.
Author Source: Karina Fernández/Revista Puerto
Editado por Malena Nahum