This Atlas of the Patagonian Sea. Species and Spaces is a summary of information on the use made of the ecosystem of the Patagonian Sea by seabirds and marine mammals. These top predators require considerable space and resources and are vulnerable to many human activities. This makes them good indicators of the status of conservation of the ecosystem.

The detailed analysis contained in this Atlas provides useful basic scientific information essential for implementing the vision of integrated ecosystem management. In particular it suggests that there is a need to create a network of marine areas, under special considerations of biodiversity management, which will incorporate those open sea environments which are linked to key coastal areas.

The Patagonian Sea

The Patagonian Sea is the oceanic ecosystem of the South-Western Atlantic, exposed to the ecological effects of the fronts created by the Brazil and Malvinas currents. It is a unique, highly productive ocean which is plentiful in species of high aesthetic, ecological and economic value, but it is also vulnerable.

The limits of the Patagonian Sea are: the coasts of southern Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina and the meridian of 75°W to the west, the meridian of 50°W to the east, the point of contact of meridian 50°W with the Brazilian coast to the north, and parallel 60°S to the south.

Main features of the target area:
  • The circulation of its waters, particularly the Malvinas Current, as the functional axis of the system.
  • The inclusion of the whole of the extensive Patagonian continental shelf and of the Patagonian Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem.
  • It constitutes a transnational oceanic area.
  • It adjoins on its southern edge the area of the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR-CCRVMA; parallel 60°S).
  • It incorporates the migration corridors of the most charismatic species in the ecosystem (e.g. Magellanic Penguin, Black-browed Albatross, Southern Elephant Seal, and others).
  • It incorporates the most important oceanic fronts in the ecosystem: Brazil-Malvinas convergence, slope front and tidal fronts on the shelf.
  • It incorporates all the oceanographic regimes identified for the area.
  • It includes all the areas of greatest productivity described for the South-Western Atlantic in subtropical, temperate and sub-Antarctic systems.
  • It incorporates Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and the High Seas (international waters).
  • It adjoins the provincial waters of all those provinces with a seaboard in Argentina, thus complementing coastal ecosystem projects.
  • It incorporates the Common Fishing Zone between the Argentine Republic and the Republic of Uruguay.
  • It includes all the large-scale fisheries of Area 41 of FAO: Argentine hake, Argentine shortfin squid, Patagonian toothfish, etc.
  • It includes the breeding areas of the target species for deep-sea fishing by Argentina and Uruguay.
  • It embraces breeding and migration areas of all the transzonal species in the South-Western Atlantic.