What is the Blue Hole that is in Argentina?

The Argentine Chamber of Deputies gave the green light to the bill creating a marine protected area Agujero Azul, in the zone where the remains of the submarine ARA San Juan lie. That area of ​​the Argentine continental shelf, due to its extraordinary marine biodiversity, is considered a “supermarket” of food for various marine species. And it is crossed by conservationist, scientific and economic interests.

over the surface boats of all sizes and flag sail who fish on the edge of international waters; Beneath that mass of deep, cold water are the remains of the ARA San Juan submarine and its 44 crew members.

The Blue Hole is an area in the ocean, 500 kilometers from the Gulf of San Jorge, between the provinces of Chubut and Santa Cruzand covers an area of ​​148,000 square kilometers of the seabed, bordering the Exclusive Economic Zone, where Argentina exercises sovereign rights for the purposes of exploration and exploitation, conservation and administration of natural resources.

This area is the only one in which the 200-meter isobath (a cartographic representation) runs outside that exclusive area. Consequently, the eastern part of the Blue Hole is in international waters.

Bid between the economy and biodiversity

The Blue Hole is a feeding area for several species of great economic importance (such as hake, Patagonian scallops and squid) and many species of birds and mammals. But also other species of interest for conservation, such as marine birds and mammalsThey also feed on the spot at certain times of the year.

The abundant biological resources of the place they make a record intense foreign fishing activity, which focuses on catching squid. However, the impact of overfishing on biodiversity and food chains is largely unknown.

On the other hand, underwater features, largely unexplored, attracts scientific interest, in addition to economic. Although it is not the only thing: it is estimated that the area would also be rich in hydrocarbons. In 2021, the national government launched exploration offshore of oil. Reason for which, it is considered that with the protection of the entire Blue Hole area it would be impossible to extract them.

The Agujero Azul Benthic Marine Protected Area – its formal name – would be the first created in the Argentine Continental Shelf beyond 200 nautical miles and would allow the conservation of a system of submarine canyons on the continental slope, largely unknown, in addition to the caring for vulnerable species and of the spaces of refuge, reproduction and breeding of species.

The approved bill This Wednesday at dawn it was promoted by the deputy Graciela Camano (Federal Interbloc) and had the backing of the Frente de Todos, the United Provinces interbloc, the Frente de Izquierda Unidad and Encuentro Federal, the latter, the only Together for Change bloc that supported the initiative. The rest of the opposition bloc did not vote for the project and asked that it return to the corresponding commission.

The relatives of the victims of the ARA San Juan criticized the opposition for not supporting and voting on the bill.

Manage the seabed

The Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Juan Cabandiecelebrated the green light obtained in Deputies: “We are one step away from having a law for our seabed, which will allow the conservation of its biodiversity and the protection of its resources.”

Meanwhile, the president of the National Parks Administration (APN), Lautaro Erratchu, assured: “The creation of this new protected area will give us the possibility of preserving and managing our seabed more efficiently and sustainably. In addition, we would be doubling the number of marine hectares that National Parks currently manage for their conservation.”

Finally, this protection zone is one of the five priority geographical areas established within the Pampa Azul Initiativewhich seeks to strengthen Argentine sovereignty over the sea, the sustainable use of marine assets, including the creation and management of marine protected areas.

After approval in the Lower House, the bill passed to the Senate, where it must be approved to finally become law.

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