Protected Marine Area Banco Namuncurá

Protected Marine Area Banco Namuncurá

The Burdwood Bank is an underwater promontory, shaped like a plateau located between the Malvinas Islands and the Island of the States, its importance lies in being one of the regions with the highest productivity of the Argentine Sea.

How to get here

Al ser un área protegida oceánica, solo se puede llegar en embarcación, que puede tener fines científicos, extractivos o estratégicos desde la perspectiva territorial. No es un área habilitada para el turismo.

¿Are you in Tierra del Fuego? Check how to get here from your location

directions_walk directions_car


It is 160 km south of the Falkland Islands, east of the Island of the States at a distance of 150 km and 1,200 km NW of the South Georgia Islands.

Conservation value:

The Namuncurá Bank is an exclusively oceanic protected area, and the first of its kind in Argentina. It protects the Burdwood bank, which is the submarine plateau with the highest productivity of the Argentine Sea. The importance of conservation is given by the high diversity of organisms, being the feeding site for many species. In addition, it is an area of ​​high environmental sensitivity and of importance for the protection and sustainable management of the biodiversity of the seabed. Part of the objectives of this protected area is to promote the sustainable, environmental and economic management of the marine benthic ecosystems of our platform through a demonstration area and facilitate scientific research aimed at the application of the ecosystem approach in fisheries and the mitigation of the effects of global change.

To regulate the extractive and scientific activities at the Namuncurá Bank, a concentric zoning was established, with three areas standing out: core, buffer and transition.

What services does it offer?

Due to the geographical characteristics and conservation objectives it does not offer services.


The Burdwood Bank is a submarine plateau located between the Malvinas Islands and the Island of the States, has an approximate extension of 400 km in east-west direction and 120 km in north-south direction. It has an area of ​​34,000 km2, bringing the protected surface of the Argentine seas from 0.8 to 4%.

The Burdwood Bank is located on the northern edge of the Scotia plate, edge of transformative type and subject to high seismicity. Its geological origin is a consequence of the fractionation of the earth's crust due to the movement towards the E of Scotia's Plate, opening its way between the South American Plate and the Antarctic Plate. The submarine plateau that constitutes this bank, with a minimum depth of 150 m, is limited in the north by a deep submarine channel that separates it from the Malvinas Islands and to the south by the continental slope.

The presence of the Malvinas Archipelago combined with the topography of the seabed of the Bank, acts as a barrier of waters of the Circumpolar Antarctic current in its displacement towards the north. This situation generates upward circulations of nutrients from the bottom of the sea that, with the contribution of sunlight from the surface, generate high productivity.

The great biological and economic importance of the Bank is that high productivity makes it an important area for feeding and distributing birds, such as penguins, albatrosses and petrels, and mammals, such as the southern dolphin, the southern elephant seal and the South American sea lion. In addition, there are breeding and spawning sites of species of high commercial value such as Polish, Patagonian toothfish and Fuegian sardine in its surrounding waters. On the other hand, it represents an area of ​​particular interest for biodiversity due to the presence of invertebrates, including some fourteen endemic species of cold water corals, highly vulnerable.

The eventual exploitation of hydrocarbons in its vicinity would seriously jeopardize the sustainability of this complex system.

Creation story:

During the 1990s, the area occupied by the current Namuncurá Protected Area was characterized by an important fishing activity, especially of Polish (Micromesistius australis). As of 2008, the Federal Fisheries Council (Disposition SSPyA 250/2008) banned activity in its most critical area, because it is a marine environment sensitive to human activities. At present, the area that was closed, was converted into the Nucleus Zone, where extractive activities are prohibited, and only control and inspection is allowed.

In 1995, the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) created the Jakarta mandate, which promotes the creation of protected marine and coastal areas. In this regard, Law 26,875, enacted on July 3, 2013, created the Namuncurá Protected Marine Area, in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Argentina. This unit of conservation is in charge of the Chief of Cabinet of Ministers (authority of application) and of a Council of Administration, conformed by a representative of the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Headquarters of Cabinet of Ministers, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, a representative of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, a representative of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), a representative of the National Parks Administration, a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing and Food, a representative of the Ministry of Defense, a representative of the Ministry of Security and a representative of the province of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica, and South Atlantic Islands.

Part of the area, Transition and Buffer Zone, overlap with an area under illegal control of the United Kingdom. In addition, the Bank includes within its limits oil exploration areas, both in the United Kingdom and Argentina. In the case of Argentina, the enforcement authority would participate, but the situation becomes more complex in the disputed spaces.