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The Argentine Sea: the southeast South American shelf marine ecosystem
Esteves, J.L.; Ciocco, N.F.; Colombo, J.C.; Freije, H.; Harris, G.; Iribarne, O.; Isla, I.; Nabel, P.; Pascual, M.S.; Penchaszadeh, P.E.; Rivas, A.L.; Santinelli, N. (2000). The Argentine Sea: the southeast South American shelf marine ecosystem, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 1. Regional chapters: Europe, The Americas and West Africa. pp. 749-771
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 1. Regional chapters: Europe, The Americas and West Africa. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 934 pp., more

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Document type: Review


Authors  Top 
  • Esteves, J.L.
  • Ciocco, N.F.
  • Colombo, J.C.
  • Freije, H.
  • Harris, G.
  • Iribarne, O.
  • Isla, I.
  • Nabel, P.
  • Pascual, M.S.
  • Penchaszadeh, P.E.
  • Rivas, A.L.
  • Santinelli, N.

    The Southeast South American shelf marine ecosystem (SSASME) extends over the entire continental shelf off the eastern shores of Argentina, Uruguay and southeastern Brazil (23° to 55° latitude south). It is one of the Widestin the world with smooth relief. The La Plata River basin system drains into this marine ecosystem providing fresh waters and nutrients that support a rich mix of coastal and marine fauna and flora. The La Plata River is the second largest river in South America, after the Amazon. The Malvinas/Falklands Current also contributes nutrients to the highly productive marine ecosystem that extends along the edge of the shelf-break, sustaining large populations of invertebrates, fish, marine birds and mammals. There is a strong interdependence between the shelf/slope zone, located between 170 and 850 km from the coast, and coastal activities. Fish catches near the shelf-break support land-based processing plants, and marine birds and mammals that feed in the area for almost six months each year, return to the coast to breed in large colonies which, as valuable tourist attractions, contribute significantly to the regional economy. Areas that are most valuable in terms of global biodiversity are the shores of Patagonia. Besides providing resting and breeding sites for marine birds and mammals, this coast has significant coastal wetlands that are used as feeding and resting areas by migratory shorebirds. At present, more than one third of the total Argentinean population (~12,000,000) is settled 80 km around the ports of Buenos Aires and La Plata and the population densities are inversely proportional to latitude. In Patagonia, population density is estimated at one inhabitant per square kilometre, except for the valleys of the rivers Colorado, Negro and Chubut. In the northern section of this coastal system, the La Plata River carries significant levels of pollution which have little-studied effects on the marine ecosystem. In Patagonia, although industrial activity is growing along the coast, it is incipient and coastal water is of high quality and free from industrial, agricultural and, in most cases, urban pollutants. Clear jurisdictions and effective administration based on coastal zone management planning and a harmonious interrelationship between the provincial and national governments are the major challenges for the long-term protection of the biological diversity and health of the Southeast South American shelf marine ecosystem.

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