Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Patagonian Sea provides ecological services essential for the region.  Some of these services currently have great monetary value while others cannot be valued in terms of money even though they are critical for human wellbeing and the whole ecosystem. Among services provided by the Patagonian Sea the following deserve to be highlighted:

  • Services involving the provision of food which is a product of fishing and which has a market money value.   For example, fishing exports from Argentina amounted to U$S 1,200 million in 2006.  Some of the most renowned species of fish are the Argentine squid, common hake and the Patagonian prawn.
  • Essential services (nutrient cycle; provision of food and habitat for harvested species). These services for which no money is exchanged allow for maintenance of commercial fisheries and the rest of biodiversity.
  • Regulating services (atmospheric gas balance, liquid effluent purification and infectious disease control). The Patagonian continental shelf and slope absorb large quantities of atmospheric carbon dioxide and help to mitigate the effects of global warming.  The sea also helps to purify or isolate urban and industrial waste due to the combined effect of physical and biological factors.  In Argentina and Uruguay around 20 towns on the coast (both large and small) discharge their liquid effluents into the sea with little or no treatment.  The ecosystem has been making up for the lack of investment and infrastructure works while mitigating serious sanitary risks for the human population.  There is no way we can estimate the monetary value of these environmental services.
  • Cultural services such as aesthetic contemplation and tourism. Some of these services have acquired increasing monetary value, such as international ecotourism associated with the sea which has undergone sustained growth over the last decade, providing income for the region estimated at around hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
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