Brightly-colored sea anemones. Green-eyed shrimp. Blue starfish. All these creatures can be found in the waters of Argentina’s two newly designated marine protected areas, which together span 25 million acres.
The Argentine Senate approved a law to establish the Yaganes and Namuncurá-Banco Burdwood II marine protected areas in the southern Argentine Sea on Wednesday, according to Tompkins Conservation, a conservation group working out of Chile and Argentina. This nearly accomplishes the country’s 2020 commitment to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to protect 10 percent of its seas.
This is definitely something to celebrate. More and more Latin American countries are taking steps to protect their beautiful landscapes and ecosystems. Just last week, Argentina established the Iberá National Park in the northeast. Earlier this year, Peru and Chile created major new national parks, too. And last year, Mexico showed everyone up by creating the largest marine reserve in North America at 36 million acres.
Still, all these millions of acres don’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things. At least not yet. Only 2 percent of the ocean is protected so far, according to a report published earlier this year. With nearly 90 percent of the ocean degraded in some way by humans, we need to get that number up fast to help these ecosystems recover.
The commitment of countries like Argentina is encouraging. Its new protected areas keep fishing industry out, which is good for anglers in the long term as the populations around the reserves feel its positive benefits. And Argentina may designate another protected area, the Peninsula Miter Protected Area, Friday, reports Argentina-based Infobae. That one would cover sea and land.
Until then, enjoy all the wonders these new marine protected areas hold.