Monday, October 13, 2008

Argentina bans fishing on part of coast to protect marine wildlife

Environment News Service: The government of Argentina has banned commercial fishing along an underwater island submerged in the South Atlantic Ocean 136 miles off the long country's southern tip. Known as Burdwood Bank, the protected area encompasses 694 square miles rich in hard and soft coral species found nowhere else on Earth.

Burdwood Bank serves as an important feeding ground for whales, sea lions, penguins, and albatross. It is also the breeding ground for two ecologically important fish species - southern blue whiting and Fuegian sardines. The community of top predators and migratory species in this area come from as far away as Antarctica, South Georgia Island, and New Zealand.

The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society has identified Burdwood Bank as a critical wildlife area under its Sea and Sky initiative, which seeks to promote precautionary management of the vast Patagonian Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem, one of the most productive regions in the southern hemisphere.

…"Armed with sound science, Consejo Federal Pesquero has taken a big step in ensuring sustainability in Argentina's fishing industry by protecting Burdwood Bank," said Dr. Claudio Campagna, of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Sea and Sky Program. … "With the protection of this small, but critical area, the ocean is better able to replenish what we take from it, and equally important, Argentina's unique biodiversity is preserved," said Campagna.

The ecosystem which contains and surrounds the Patagonian Shelf, harbors some of the southern hemisphere's richest marine resources, sustained by the nutrient-rich Falklands-Malvinas and Brazil currents….

Map of Argentina from the CIA World Factbook

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