Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Claudio Campagna, Ph.D

Centro Nacional Patagónico

The Sea and Sky Project: Conservation of the Patagonian Sea

Wednesday - February 11, 2009

Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.

There is nothing special about the Patagonian Sea, which surrounds the Southern Cone of South America. It is not pristine. Nor are its problems unique. It is exposed to all types of threats caused or aggravated by human activities, putting species and populations at risk. The management of the Patagonia Sea also shares common challenges with other seas. The legal framework includes essential tools for sustainable use, but the shortcomings in enforcement and compliance preclude any benefit from them. The implementation of conservation tools is incipient.
The sea not only suffered from misuse, but also a lack of institutional support in the civil society to focus the concern and conservation efforts of users or administrators. The Patagonia Sea faces the challenges of being embedded in a scenario of imperfect democracies and sovereignty conflict, as well as social and political idiosyncrasies that often perceive knowledge as a threat.
The Wildlife Conservation Society began the Sea and Sky Project as an attempt to change the predicted degradation of this relatively well preserved ecosystem. A coalition was created, integrating the dismembered voices of conservationists, which has now produced the first robust diagnosis of the conservation status of the entire system, a product that cannot be easily ignored by other stakeholders. A series of indicators were created to measure the path of conservation efforts and a database with more than 130,000 uplinks of 15 top predator species is used to identify priority conservation areas in the open ocean.
The first open ocean protected areas for the entire South West Atlantic are starting to emerge. So, the Patagonia Sea is not special, but the discovery and the development of new models of civil engagement and its particular character create a special place and a lasting opportunity.


Next: February 18 - Robert Aller, Ph.D.