Around the Region

Giant otter spotted in the wild in Chaco, surprising scientists

Hopes are emerging in Argentina that the endangered giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) might be poised for a comeback. In Argentina’s Iberá National Park, conservationists are carrying out captive breeding of giant otters, which can grow to two meters (over six feet) and weigh up to 33 kilograms (over 73 pounds). They say they might release the first of them into the Esteros del Iberá, a region of extensive freshwater wetlands in northeast Argentina, by the end of the year. Meanwhile, in El Impenetrable National Park in Argentina’s northern Chaco region, scientists in May spotted a giant otter in the wild for the first time in decades. The giant otter, a carnivorous aquatic mammal, is endemic to South America, but is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its populations in the Amazon region and the watersheds of the Orinoco and Paraná Rivers are highly fragmented...

[ Log in to read more | Subscribe ]

Uruguay aims to lengthen its moratorium on fracking

The administration of Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou plans to ask Congress to approve a 10-year extension of the country’s ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as a means of extracting hydrocarbons. The practice, which involves injecting water, chemicals and sand into underground rock formations at high pressure to release embedded oil and gas, has been prohibited in Uruguay under a moratorium declared in 2017. With the moratorium due to expire in December, the country’s Environment Ministry and Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining have agreed to propose legislation to Congress that officials from both agencies say would “shield” Uruguay from fracking. Concerns about fracking gathered momentum in Uruguay in 2013, when Schuepbach Energy, a Dallas, Texas-based exploration company, obtained authorization to probe hydrocarbon deposits in northern Uruguay in the vicinity of the Guaraní Aquifer, one of the world’s biggest freshwater aquifers. Occupying an estimated one million square...

[ Log in to read more | Subscribe ]

Argentine province takes a pass on salmon farming

Argentina’s province of Tierra del Fuego has prohibited salmon farming, an industry that over the years has built a strong presence in neighboring Chile, generating US$5 billion in annual export earnings. Salmon operations have yet to gain a foothold anywhere in Argentina. That’s largely due to concerns that it degrades water quality, risks massive escapes of salmon—a non-native species—and involves the use of antibiotics and other chemicals to ward off diseases that all too often spread among farmed fish. All of those problems have, in fact, affected Chilean salmon farms. But the lucrative industry has nevertheless expanded in recent years from its starting point four decades ago in Chilean Patagonia’s Los Lagos and Aysén regions to even remote Magallanes in the extreme south. (See "Pushback against salmon farming in Magallanes" —EcoAméricas, July 2019.) Discussion...

[ Log in to read more | Subscribe ]