The Future of the Rio de la Plata

February 24, 2007 at 7:52 pm Leave a comment

The Rio de la Plata is the widest estuary in the world. The body of water, which connects the junction of the Uruguay and Parana Rivers with the Atlantic ocean, defines the boundary between Argentina and Paraguay. It is a major port for the cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. The la Plata is a vital part of the ecosystem, home to the rare La Plata Dolphin, sea turtles, and many fish. But the water system is in danger. Deforestation and agriculture are causing erosion of the beaches, fisheries are being depleted and companies are dumping waste into the water.

Canada and Uruguay are working together to improve the quality of water in the la Plata. In 1994 the Integrated Coastal Zone Management of the Rio de la Plata Support Program was formed by the International Development Research Centre (IRDC). The project is now known as EcoPlata. The collaboration between the two countries has been integral to understanding the sustainable development of the region. According to the IRDC website,

A first investigation focused on how environmental factors and human activities affect the spawning and nursery grounds of the “white croaker” or corvina, an important species for both artisanal and commercial fisheries. The corvina accounts for about 14 percent of the total catch in the estuary, but fishing yields have been dropping in recent years.

“This was a key cross-cutting issue,” says Dr Fournier. “It allowed physicists, chemists, biologists, geologists, and so forth to work together on the same question: what is it about sediments, about pollutants, about water circulation that influences the croaker and has a long-term effect on its success?”

While this effort generated a number of valuable studies, it also proved that the participating institutions could work effectively as a team. The result? In 1997, when the EcoPlata initiative was renewed, both its scope and level of financial support expanded significantly.

EcoPlata is now working to develop a costal zone management initiative to bring together research in “fisheries, oceanography, environmental protection, and urban planning.” It is hoped this work will provide a framework for authorities to establish a sustainable method for costal management.


Entry filed under: animals, Canada, politics, pollution, science, solutions, sustainability, technology, Uruguay, water.

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February 2007
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