“The work carried out by Argentine scientists at this base started 20 to 25 years ago. Today, at a time when climate change is being closely studied, 25 years of systematic observation in such a remote and isolated ecosystem is key to assess several questions of global impact,” stated Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra at the Carlini Base, located on 25 de Mayo Island, part of the Southern Shetland Islands. This base is among the 13 (permanent and temporary) bases Argentina has in Antarctica.
“This base reports to the Argentine Foreign Ministry, which is directly responsible for it. This is why I thought I should visit it. I am glad I did so, because I have engaged in very important discussions with the scientists working here,” she added.
Malcorra further stated: “Many of the activities conducted independently in are now being linked to each other, which enhances their reach. This helps us better understand their strategic value and set priorities for the future, taking into account the Antarctic Plan and reinforcing cooperation. This can boost the value of Argentina’s scientific work, which other countries do not have.”
The Argentine Foreign Minister explained that: “The Carlini Base, like the rest of our bases, was designed in a different era, when many isolated buildings were erected to cover a wider area. This design made it necessary to walk around in order to connect the buildings. Today, buildings are much more concentrated and have a “telescopic” design, in order to expand in summer and contract in winter, minimizing the use of heat and resources. Migrating to this design, however, is an ambitious aspiration, since it requires considerable efforts and investment.”
Malcorra further explained that “Our newest building is the aquarium. It needs equipment to be suitable for, and maximize its use. This has already been included in the Plan of the Antarctic Institute, and the public bidding process will be launched as soon as possible. The infrastructure of the buildings must be improved because they are considerably deteriorated, even the ones that are 4 to 5 years old. This demonstrates that the material used to build them was not the most appropriate. We need a comprehensive plan to improve all bases and a long-term plan.”
A sovereignty umbrella currently exists over Antarctica since the Antarctic Treaty has frozen the situation, as is often said. This provides for and promotes cooperation and scientific work under the commitment not to militarize the area, without forcing any party to waive the rights they claim. This gives us the opportunity to work in a different spirit,” she noted.
“I think of the future and I am worried to see the enormous dark patches of glaciers shrinking. I am concerned about the impact this may have on Antarctica and its resources, which are increasingly accessible, when the area is more exposed to economic exploitation. Our spirit of cooperation will be put to the test. I believe we have to make every effort to keep it alive, since it is the basis of a virtuous circle that allows us to continue protecting Antarctica while defending our interests and better understanding the impact of climate change,” explained Malcorra.
With respect to resources, she stated: “The resources of Antarctica open a big question mark. It is clear that there are resources and significant opportunities. One of these resources is fisheries, which can be seen as both an opportunity but also invite predatory exploitation. The Shetland Islands, where the Carlini base is located, were declared a protected area. This was achieved partly thanks to the work carried out by our base, where it was demonstrated that entire species were in danger. This is very important to us, because the resources belong to everyone, but an important part of them belongs to us. We have to protect them and make sure they are properly handled, without adversely affecting the ecosystem.”
With respect to the future, Malcorra stated the following: “The preservation of the area must be planned for as far into the future as possible. If climate change were to alter Antarctica’s profile 50 or 100 years from now, then it is our duty to coming generations to gather as much information as needed to demonstrate that everything must be done responsibly.”
When asked about icebreaker ARA Almirante Irizar, which caught fire in 2007, Malcorra stated: “This issue is not being dealt with by the Foreign Ministry. Nevertheless, the Logistics Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Walter Ceballos, told me that icebreaker Irizar could be ready by September. Tests must be carried out in the open, but the vessel should be available for the next campaign. This will be a reason for all Argentines to celebrate. It is fundamental to our entire logistics.”
In addition to Secretary Ceballos, Malcorra was accompanied by the National Director for Antarctica, Fernanda Millicay; the Director of the Argentine Antarcic Institute, Rodolfo Sánchez; and the National Director of Antarctic Foreign Policy, Máximo Gowland.
Press Release No. 010/17
Press Office: 4819-7375 / 8296 / 7388
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