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Jason Islands are an archipelago in the Falkland Islands. Three of the islands, Steeple Jason, Grand Jason and Clarke's Islet, are private nature rese

A foreign foundation owns Islands in the Falklands

Click on the flag for more information about Argentina ARGENTINA
Monday, August 15, 2022, 02:00 (GMT + 9)

Does the North American Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have any interest in protecting some islands of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas Archipelago? We will see, but you always have to be very careful, because sometimes, behind apparent environmental care, geopolitical strategies are hidden that are alien to the national interest, which blend into the spheres of power to define the maritime, fishing and sovereign policies of the country.

Nobody knew -until today- why a Deputy, originally from the deep interior, from saltpeter, cotton, turned into an environmentalist, presented a project aimed at protecting something on the floor of the high seas that, not even the researchers were able to define precisely, rejecting -the Deputy- with some anger, all the scientific, environmental, economic, territorial and strategic arguments of the experts who opposed her unfounded project and, even more striking, that the Foreign Ministry and, more specifically, the Ministry of "Malvinas", will accompany a project located in a sector bordering the marine area occupied and disputed by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Can a Deputy of the Nation endorse a project conceived and promoted by a foreign Foundation and, the "Malvinas" secretary, ignore who the Wildlife Conservation Society is about?

Do legislators, officials and their advisers work blindly, ignore or participate in an external framework that under the guise of caring for the environment weakens Argentine sovereignty?

The WCS Foundation has the support of OCEANS 5; organization that, its "first grants supported work in the UK Overseas Territories, Antarctica, the Arctic and several large Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), including the United States" (sic) including among its partners and members to thirteen foundations from the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and this, which could be overlooked, acquires great importance, since the aforementioned "Marine Protected Area" would complete the "blue belt" that , already in 2017 the British announced that they would surround the Falkland Islands/Malvinas -among other overseas territories- ensuring control and exploitation of fishing resources.

For what reason was it admitted that this project, framed in an internationalized marine environment and linked to an area occupied and disputed by the United Kingdom, was dealt with in the Chamber of Deputies, without due evaluation of all the necessary background information and the approval of the Defense, Foreign Relations, Natural Resources, Maritime Interests and Budget Committees?

Is it a mere coincidence that who would have to administer this Agujero Azul Marine Protected Area was none other than the recently resigned Administrator of Parks and Walks Lautaro Erratchu who on August 3 passed Decision 484 declaring the Lanín Volcano a "sacred Mapuche site"? Neuquen?

For purely fishing matters, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a career ambassador in the Federal Fisheries Council, because it understands -surely- that the scope of these activities, despite being an exploitation of resources, domain and jurisdiction of the coastal State, is influenced by international regulations derived from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ratified by Argentina in 1995 (Law 24,543) and also, because 5,497,178 Km2 of maritime and insular territory (1,639,900 Km2); Antarctic (2,426,911 km2) or the Argentine continental shelf (1,430,367 km2) are occupied or disputed by the United Kingdom.

We have already said -we wondered and affirmed- in the previous seven articles on the subject, why was the MPA originally limited to 12 thousand km2 (2014) in the Argentine EEZ moved to the Blue Hole in the high seas with 164 thousand km2? (2021); Was it not known that Korean, Taiwanese and Spanish-British vessels with English licenses fish in the selected area and that they cannot be reached by this intended marine protected area (MPA) and that, as happened with the Agreement signed by Cavallo for Conservation (FOCZ) east of Falkland Islands/Malvinas in 1990, would it allow the granting of licenses to the islanders to be consolidated? For what reason was a project discussed that was not discussed in the Budget and Finance Committee and does not provide funds for control and investigation tasks, which, without taking into account the needs of naval equipment and investigation, only in terms of control and surveillance will require some 15 million dollars annually?; Didn't the authors of the project know that, due to lack of resources, the OPVs recently acquired from France are moored at the Mar del Plata Naval Base, unable to control even the vast Argentine sea, and that the Undersecretary of Fisheries and INIDEP have 17 articles in Law 24,922 -if the means were available- to carry out all protection tasks in the background, without the need to dictate any new AMP?; That to protect the crew members and the remains of the Submarine ARA San Juan, the declaration of National Marine Monument would have been enough? Nor is it that by assigning the category of Strict Reserve “on” the platform, only national vessels will be prevented from fishing? What were the prior scientific requirements required by the FAO (2012) to establish an MPA not met? that there is no breach of the «Strategic Plan for Biological Diversity 2011-2020 commitment» because the United Kingdom established in 2011 a reserve of 1.07 million km2 around the South Georgia and Sandwich Islands and has restricted an area to our country equivalent to 52% of the Argentine ZEE?; That the project will not have any economic benefit, will not prevent illegal fishing and that, in no way will it strengthen national sovereignty since by Article 77 of the Sea Convention no one can undertake activities on the platform without the express consent of the Argentine State?

Everything is very serious. But it is absolutely worse, because the Wildlife Conservation Society owns several islands in the Falkland Islands/Malvinas Archipelago and of course, now we can understand their interest in the Blue Hole, which would become the "blue belt" of British protection of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas
and, also, his special concern, for the conservation of the black-browed albatross that is found on the islands of "his property" and that, according to the report of the local branch of WCS led by the aforementioned Falabella, when describing the percentage of species to be conserved in the Blue Hole-ZEE (Page 82) reaches “2.72” (Page 83/4).

The WCS itself is in charge of ratifying what has been said:
“At the western end of the Falkland Islands (…), which protrude into the South Atlantic Ocean, the Jason Islands are an important nesting site for the black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) . The species is circumpolar in the southern oceans, but the largest breeding populations are on Steeple Jason Island. (…) Until recently, this elegant bird was considered endangered due to a drastic reduction in its population since 1950, but it has begun to recover. Longline and trawl fisheries are believed to have contributed significantly to this decline. Thanks to a generous gift from Michael and Judith Steinhardt, the Wildlife Conservation Society has owned Grand Jason and Steeple Jason Islands since 2001. In addition to thousands of nesting pairs of black-browed albatrosses, the islands are home to other birds (… ) WCS manages these islands as private nature reserves, and is working with local government to further protect the entire Jason Islands archipelago and surrounding marine area” (Christopher J. Mckenzie, Wildview, WCS, August 15, 2017).

The Sebaldes or jason Islands (51º04'37''S 60º58'08'O), they are located to the northwest of the Gran Malvina Island and 400 km2 from Patagonia, they are a group of islands with a total surface of 21.7 Km2 of the Province of Tierra del Fuego Its denomination is due to the fact that in 1559 the Dutch navigator Sebald de Weert baptized it with his name. Already in the hands of the United Kingdom, between 1864 and 1866, two million penguins were killed for the manufacture of oil. In March 1970 they were bought by Leonard W. Hill and, already under the English names Steeple Jason and Grand Jason, they were bought by Michael Steinhardt in the 1990s, who donated them to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), owner of the Bronx Zoo.

Now we can understand the Twitter of 7/6/2022 of the local branch of the WCS celebrating as a BIG NEWS! the half sanction of the Honorable Chamber of Deputies of the Nation of the Bill for the "Creation of the Blue Hole (Agujero Azul) Marine Protected Area" (AMP) and, it was very reasonable, since all the expectations that Valeria Falabella had in 2014 when she was responsible for the Technical Report on “Identification of areas of high conservation value as potential marine protected areas” (Page 1) and the “Technical Workshop on the Implementation of National Marine Protected Areas in the Argentine Sea” (3-4/9 /2018) (p. 3). and, of its "Unpublished Final Report" (3/2019) giving great satisfaction to the WCS Headquarters, which will surely make new contributions to these soft occupations called Marine Protected Areas.

These foreign foundations, through their subsidiaries, interfere in the very heart of government structures, defining the policies of the National State. This is evident after reading the Final Report of the "Implementation Workshop of National Marine Protected Areas, 2018" (p. 50, 2019) where WCS is constituted as organizer and says: «The design of a National System of Marine Protected Areas ( SNAMP) requires defining what we want to conserve?, and deciding on national priorities for marine biodiversity in all the Argentine Sea». In the aforementioned works, Ms. Falabella represents the North American WCS, although it is not clear if she also does so as a professional of the then Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Development, since in several passages the report refers to "strengthening the authority of application to be able to lead the management of a set of representative sites of the biodiversity of the Argentine Sea» (p. 12); “it is necessary to develop in general the governance and management capacity of the State” (p. 14) and, “governance is related to the power, policies, structures and processes used for decision-making in an area of ​​responsibility » (p. 38). Is not the interference of a North American WCS agent a lot or is it someone who simultaneously carried out incompatible tasks in the national State?

In any case, the project of the Deputy, which is based on the fundamentals of WCS (Falabella, V. 2014 "Identification of Areas of high Conservation value as potential Marine Protected Areas" pages 2, 79 to 85), although it is, a bad copy since, in addition to being erroneous, it omits some relevant issues, among them: The report says that «The area proposed as an MPA is located on the Argentine EEZ, adjacent to the Blue Hole of the high seas (between the parallels 45º S - 47º S; the meridian 61º 30' W to the West and the limit of the EEZ of Argentina to the East) and covers an area of ​​approximately 12,000 km2 in national waters» (Pages 16 to 19 and 80) and no, 164,000 km2 in high sea; that, «according to the workshop participants' vision, the two areas with the greatest difficulty for the creation of an MPA are the Front Slope and the Blue Hole-ZEE» (p. 14) and not the “high seas” which was never analyzed; that “the area called Blue Hole-ZEE was the most discussed and one of the groups of experts rejected its application” (Annex IV-9); that “the only area that was not selected as being of differential relevance among the candidates by any group of experts was the Blue Hole-EEZ” (Annex IV-12); that in the table for assessing compliance with the EBSA criteria for each of the candidate areas by the working groups, "the area with the lowest score was the Blue Hole-ZEE" (Annex IV-15) and that, "according to According to the participants, the two areas with the greatest difficulty for the creation of an MPA were the Front Slope and the Blue Hole-ZEE» (Annex IV-20). that, contrary to what the “fundamentals” of the Deputy’s project refer to, the report describes “the percentage of the distribution of each species that is the object of conservation in the Blue Hole-ZEE…” (p. 82) except for the longtail hake with “2.02” in the rest of the species, birds and mammals, the percentage of relevance is null or very low, except for the black-browed albatross of “2.72” (originally from the aforementioned WCS islands); northern royal albatross “3.63” and the black petrel “2.44” (Page 83/4). In other words, nothing justifies a Benthic MPA in the EEZ and, much less in the high seas, which was not analyzed and, in any case, as we have already mentioned, in the case of hoki or squid, a prohibition on the use of of trawl nets in certain areas and seasons.

Note that in the first work of WCS and others it is indicated that, "the report should be cited as follows: Falabella, V. 2014...", Final Technical Report component 1: "Strengthening the governance of Marine Protected Areas" and in the second, as General Coordinators Falabella and Santiago Krapovickas are indicated by WCS (p. 8) and as facilitator (p. 3) the “Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence: «an international network of civil society organizations” (p. 7). The work was financially supported by OCEANS 5 (pages 3, 9, 11, 13) and sponsored by the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers; the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and the National Parks Administration (APN) (p. 3); although, conspicuously, regarding this last distribution, the Report (2019) indicates that "today it does not have the capacities or knowledge to manage MPAs and there are no guidelines to understand how to manage MPAs" (p. 28) and entrusts INIDEP train the APN (p. 32), which demonstrates the absurd duplication of functions in the State, since INIDEP has been dedicated to research and conservation of fishery species since 1977 (Law 21,673) as a continuation of the Institute of Marine Biology created in 1960 and the Parks Administration has no experience in the conservation of the sea and its species, as the report itself indicates.

We Argentines cannot settle down, acquire properties and much less do what the WCS stated 5 years ago: «manage the islands of the Falkland Islands archipelago, work with the local government to further protect the entire Jason Islands archipelago and the surrounding marine area» (Christopher J. Mckenzie, Wildview, WCS, 8/15/2017). An absurdity that the Argentine State admits the WCS intervention in Falkland's/Malvinas and beyond the territory occupied by the United Kingdom, giving opinions and promoting laws referring to the administration of the entire Southwest Atlantic, aggravating Argentine sovereignty.

I will repeat myself: "When the scam is huge, it takes a decent name" (Adelardo López de Ayala)

Dr. Cesar Augusto Lerena

South Atlantic and Fisheries Expert – Former Secretary of State

President of the Agustina Lerena Foundation (founded 10/21/2002).

President Center for Studies on Latin American Fisheries (CESPEL).

Author of “Malvinas 1982-2022. A heroic deed and 40 years of dedication” (2021)

August 14, 2022




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