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World Ocean Day in Buenos Aires

On Friday, June 7, Mundus maris together with the Biological Sciences Career of the University of Belgrano celebrated the III edition of World Ocean Day in Buenos Aires titled "The Blue Planet in the Agenda 2030". The event had the support of the Association of Graduates in Biological Sciences of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (AGCB) and the Federation of Professional Associations of Graduates in Biology (FAPBIO).

Dr. Lilian Ferré, Director of the Biological Sciences Course of the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences of the University, opened the event and Dr. Marcelo Morales Yokobori, professor of that career path ensured moderation. The ceremony took place in the Presidente Urquiza Auditorium of the so-called High House of Studies.

On this occasion a long list of speakers addressed the audience. They included Dr. Cornelia E Nauen, President of Mundus maris; the Biochemist Constanza Llorente, from the Naval Hydrography Service and doctoral student of the UBA; Lic. Biol. Rocío Pazos, doctoral fellow of CONICET at the Institute of Limnology of La Plata; the Mg. Gustavo Fernández Protomastro, a biologist specialised in waste management with a Master in Environmental Engineering and Management from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia; Dr. Gustavo Lovrich, principal investigator of CONICET at the Austral Center for Scientific Research (CADIC) and leader of the Pampa Azul Project; Lic. Biol. Gabriel Blanco, Head of the On-Board Observer Programme of the National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development (INIDEP) and Dr. Patricia Morales, guest professor at the University of Louvain and specialist on the sustainable development goals.

Gender and Ocean – UN theme of this year's World Ocean Day

Dr. Cornelia Nauen: "Through the meta-analysis of a large number of in-depth case studies in artisanal fisheries we have realised that, regardless of the socio-economic situation of countries, there is a convergence in the condition of women. While women often act de facto as entrepreneurs of the family business when the men are away at sea, their work also in the pre- and postharvest sector tends not to be recognised and is underpaid or not paid at all. This needs to change. The interconnected Sustainable Development Goals adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly in 2015 demand gender equality and equity (SDG 5)."

Pollution in seas and estuaries

Bioq. Constanza Llorente: "Mercury is one of the few pollutants that disperses throughout the planet because it vaporises easily and its emissions can be traced beyond where they are being generated. Mercury present in the water gets in contact with living organisms and can penetrate the food web."

Lic. Rocío Pazos: "Microplastics (less than 5mm) can come from primary sources, originally manufactured in small sizes, and secondary sources, by fragmentation of plastic debris through solar radiation. It remains in the environment for very long times affecting the ecosystems."

Mg. Gustavo Fernández Protomastro: "50% of the 40,000 tons of daily garbage that are generated in Argentina are organic waste. They are the main cause of conflict between the treatment plants and their social and urban environment. Throughout the entire food production chain some waste production is unavoidable."

Marine protected areas and monitoring

Dr. Gustavo Lovrich: "In 2013, the creation of marine protected areas started with the Burdwood Bank, south of the Malvinas, in the middle of the ocean. Then Yaganes Marine National Park was created, south of Tierra del Fuego, to protect the species of fish in transit between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, and for the conservation of the sea bottom. The two current MPAs make up 13% of the Argentine continental shelf."

Lic. Gabriel Blanco: "What we do is a sampling scheme covering the different fleets in order to assign a number of observers in such a way that the information they collect can be extrapolated to the rest of the fleet. Currently, a series of meetings are being scheduled with all interested parties, in order to expand information on bycatch and discards with a view to mitigating them."

The catch reconstruction by commercial groups as shown by the Sea Around Us Project on the basis of its Argentinean collaborators below illustrates why increased effort to improve the statistics are warranted for a solid basis for decision-making.

Agenda 2030 

Dr. Patricia Morales: "The objective of sustainable development 14, “Life underwater”, is essential for the survival of humanity because three billion people depend on the seas as sources of protein, as it is also essential for the intrinsic value that the ocean has for the planet. The Sustainable Development Goals are all interdependent and very achievable, with the young generations playing a fundamental role."

Despite the large number of speakers the diversity of interventions kept the audience awake and interested.

The feedback after the event showed that it was worth the effort to organise the gathering and celebrate World Ocean Day as a collective learning exercise at Belgrano University.

Mundus maris thanks Dr. Marcelo Morales Yokobori for his outstanding commitment to make World Ocean Day a fixed date in the science agenda in Buenos Aires and reaching out successfully to many young people.