ABOUT AGENDA ANTÁRTICA
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Antarctica and the Southern Oceans Why do we care?
It is one of the most valuable ecosystems in the world. Home to 10,000 species. While other ecosystems have been devastated by pollution, industrial development and mining, Antarctica remains intact, with all predatory species still thriving.
It is an important piece of the climate and environmental puzzle. Antarctic water currents regulate the currents of the world’s seas, the actual temperature distribution and climatic conditions.
The 4-kilometer-thick ice sheets store our record of climate change for the last million years. It is the world’s most important natural laboratory.
It is a living example of what international collaboration can achieve – peace, respect, common goals and governance between countries.
There is no positive climate future without a healthy Antarctic ecosystem. The pristine environment and surrounding ocean informs us of a free natural world, humanity’s influence playing a crucial role in educating us about the future.
Increased human activity in Antarctica, such as industrial fishing and tourism can have negative impacts on the environment.
What are MPAs?
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been supported by scientific evidence as a highly effective strategy to mitigate the negative impacts of human activities on the oceans and promote a healthy and thriving marine environment.
Similar to how national parks are implemented on land, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are specific zones in the ocean where restrictions are placed on certain activities, such as fishing and tourism. Generally, these areas are designated in places recognized for their high biodiversity or in regions that are particularly vulnerable to environmental change or pressures from human activity. This has a beneficial impact by reducing pressure on marine ecosystems, which in turn helps to strengthen their capacity to withstand the effects of climate change.
They support the resilience of the oceans by reducing the adverse effects of human actions, thus allowing fragile ecosystems to adapt to changes in their environment.
They protect and preserve a wide range of habitats and species within a given ecosystem. Especially for those species at risk that may be facing transformations due to the impacts of climate change.
Maintain migration routes, allowing species to adapt, change or move to new locations as their natural homes begin to be affected.
They serve as a natural laboratory, where scientists can investigate ecosystem development and the effects of climate change in an ocean without being significantly disturbed by fishing or other human activities.
What is happening on the Antarctic Peninsula?
The Antarctic Peninsula, located in the northwestern tip of Antarctica and the closest region to the American continent, has experienced a notorious increase in temperatures in recent years. Its importance lies in the fact that it offers more adaptable conditions for human presence, becoming a fundamental point of access and communication during most of the year. This area presents optimal climatic conditions that make it suitable for establishing bases and conducting scientific activities.Here, sea ice and ice shelves are beginning to shrink and the ocean is warming, which is having a negative impact on penguin colonies. Some of these colonies are declining and others have been forced to abandon their habitats.
In addition, Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) play a key role in the Antarctic food chain and are the target of fishing operations that are focusing on small but biologically rich areas, which are undergoing change at a considerable rate. This is a cause for concern, as these areas play a vital role for species that depend on krill as their main food source.
It is equally important to note that this region is increasingly being visited by scientific research vessels and tourists, which poses additional challenges for the preservation of these delicate ecosystems.
Proposed Marine Protected Area in the Antarctic Peninsula - Domain 1
In 2018, Chile and Argentina submitted a proposal for the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) on the Antarctic Peninsula. This proposal covers an extensive territory, extending from the South Scotia Arc, near the South Orkney Islands, along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula to the Bellingshausen Sea. The proposed MPA would cover an area of 250,000 square miles (670,000 square kilometers) of highly vulnerable marine ecosystems.
The MPA proposal is envisioned to last 70 years and would be reviewed every decade. This would allow for the preservation of ecosystems, allowing the boundaries of protected areas to be adjusted in light of changes observed in the region over time.The proposed MPA is divided into two zones: a General Protection Zone and a Krill Fishing Zone.
In the General Protection Zone, krill fishing will be prohibited within the coastal foraging areas of nesting and breeding animals. This will allow seals, penguins and other Antarctic predators to adapt to the impacts of climate change without additional pressure from krill fisheries that deplete their primary food source.
In the Krill Fishing Zone, CCAMLR member nations will be allowed to fish for krill in accordance with CCAMLR conservation measures.
The proposed MPA will protect important foraging areas for Antarctic predators such as seals, penguins and whales, as well as essential habitats for Antarctic krill, fish and other ecologically significant marine creatures.
Discover our work
Who are we?
Non-profit organization (2012) that promotes policies towards the conservation of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean from a Latin American perspective.
Where do we come from?
10 years supporting governmental policies, educational activities and environmental impact work. Co-editor together with the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) of the journal “Antarctic Affairs”.
To be a key environmental organization in Latin America that promotes the conservation of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
What we do?
Policy advocacy, political lobbying, stakeholder engagement, civil society awareness and education.
In our commitment to promote the conservation of Antarctica and the Southern Oceans, we have a distinguished group of Partner Organizations and Advisors who contribute their experience and knowledge.
Together, we have the power to influence the future of Antarctica and all of humanity. “The creation of marine protected areas is very important because the first thing it does is to protect the overall biodiversity of a place (…). By removing the stress effect caused by fishing from these areas, it allows the ecosystem, thanks to its natural resilience, to cope with the impact of climate change.”
Dr. Rodolfo Werner
Senior Advisor, ASOC