Coastal-Marine MPA
Patagonia Austral
Interjurisdictional Coastal Marine Park

Cover Photo © Darío Podesta


This Interjurisdictional Marine Park is located in the center of the Patagonian coast and is one of the most biodiverse marine coastal sectors of the Argentine Atlantic coast. It includes a representative sector of the Patagonian steppe ecoregion and the Nordpatagonian gulfs. Together with a series of protected areas of the central Patagonian coastal region, it integrates a vast corridor of importance for the conservation of representative samples of Patagonian coastal marine biodiversity. It is located within the ¨Patagonia Azul¨ Biosphere Reserve, approved in 2015 during the 27th Session of the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program (MAB).

Geographic Location




-45.01° Latitude S

-66.12° Longitude W

Size and Limits

Total Area:


Marine Area:


Continental Area:


Area estimated based on the calculation of the area of the polygon represented on the map (ArcGIS PRO) with an Albers Equivalent Conic projection to preserve area calculations.

SIB reports 1035.74 km2 , 310.5 km2 of steppe and 725.24 km2 of Mar Argentino.
The management plan reports a total of 1048.12 km2, of which 310.52 km2 are terrestrial and 777.60 km2 are marine.

MPA file in the SIB (see here)

Legal Aspects


National (APN) – Provincial

Year of Creation


Creation Legislation

National Law 26.446/09
Provincial Law 5886

International Recognition

It is part of the Patagonia Azul Biosphere Reserve, created in 2015 (UNESCO-MAB).

Photo © Darío Podesta
Photo © Pablo Petracci

Eco-regions represented


Magellanic Province
Ecoregion of North Patagonian Gulfs


Patagonian Steppe Ecoregion

Conservation Objectives

One of the areas with the largest diversity of marine birds. Huge number of colonies of several species of marine birds. Presence of marine mammals. Key area of the Patagonian coast.

One of the Management Plan objectives is to maintain emblematic samples of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems, in order to ensure continuity of natural processes.

Patagonia Austral Interjurisdictional Coastal Marine Park (PAICMP) is located in the very center of the Patagonian coast, one of the coastal areas with the greatest coastal marine biodiversity of the Argentine Atlantic coast. It is located within the ¨Patagonia Azul¨1 Biosphere Reserve, approved in June 2015 during the 27th Session of the International Council for the Coordination of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program (MAB) (Fig. 2). With 3.1 million hectares, this Biosphere Reserve covers the largest area in the country and includes the most extensive ocean area since it extends up to 24 nautical miles.

Conservation Values

1) The general geomorphology of the area, including the archipelago and the northern coastal formation of the San Jorge Gulf, has unique characteristics in the Argentine coast, combining the features of the Marifil Formation with the profusion of islands and islets, coves, bays and inlets, and the presence of coastal ridges and pediments, exceptionally well preserved, which evidence the changes in sea level during the Quaternary. In particular:
a. The islands provide breeding habitats for numerous species of birds and marine mammals such as the southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus), the Olrog’s gull (Larus atlanticus), the white-headed steamer duck (Tachyeres leucocephalus), and for the two-hair sea lion (Arctocephalus australis).
b. The overall formation presents a subjugating scenic beauty, resulting in a potential resource for tourism development.
2) The sea and its oceanographic processes, including physical and biological fronts originated by the characteristic geomorphological features of the Marine Park’s coast, such as points, islands and reefs, which can influence sediment distribution, plankton aggregation and the distribution of organisms in benthic communities.
3) The coastal marine biodiversity of this sector, one of the most outstanding of the Argentine coast, which has a profuse list of animal and plant species.
4) The intertidal environments, including marshes with the presence of Salicornia Sarcocornia perennis, have their own exclusive species. Several beaches are important as resting and feeding sites for shorebirds, especially Bahía Bustamante and Caleta Malaspina, the coastal sector from Punta Tafor to Punta Ezquerra and from Chata and Larga Islands to Melo Bay, as well as the bays of Isla Tova and Viana. Stopover sites are scarce at the continental level and the survival of these species depends on these environments. In particular, Bustamante Bay stands out for sustaining populations of red sandpipers and sea bream, both species with high priority for conservation.
5) Macroalgae forests and meadows, especially the cachiyuyo forests and Gracilaria gracilis meadows. Subtidal macroalgae assemblages provide habitats for a great diversity of benthic invertebrates and several species of coastal fish, some of which are important prey for seabirds and marine mammals. Gracilaria gracilis meadows in Argentina are restricted to Chubut, the most important of which are found in PIMCPA waters.
6) Fish assemblages, particularly chondrichthyans and reef fish, the latter residents of rocky caves locally called “salmoneras”.
7) Seabird and shorebird assemblages. The area is used by 55 species of marine and coastal birds that nest, feed and/or rest in the area. Some of these species are vulnerable, near threatened or endangered, such as the black-browed albatross, royal albatross, black petrel, black-headed shearwater, southern flamingo, Antarctic pigeon, Cory’s plover and red shorebird.
8) White-headed steamer duck. Emblematic species of the park, endemic to Chubut and considered globally vulnerable. Fifty percent of the world’s breeding population is found within the PIMCPA.
9) The Magellanic penguin, the PIMCPA gathers 10% of the world’s breeding population.
10) Olrog’s gull. The northern sector of the gulf constitutes one of the only two breeding areas of this endangered species, which breeds only in Argentina.
11) The Southern Giant Petrel with breeding colonies on Arce and Gran Robredo islands. The islands and islets of the Marine Park are also home to 25% of the Imperial Cormorants and almost 40% of the Black-necked Cormorants in Argentina.
12) Sea lion rookeries: PIMCPA has 24 single-hair sea lion rookeries and one double-hair sea lion rookery on Arce Island.
13) Diversity of cetacean species, including the Commerson’s dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, dusky dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, killer whale and southern right whale.
14) The temperate grasslands and mallines and the associated fauna.
15) The range of steppe mammals, in particular the mara, a large endemic rodent with a peculiar social structure.

Colonies and stopover sites

The following table presents the colonies or stopover sites of some emblematic species of birds and marine mammals present within the MPA boundaries.


Year of Management Plan approval


Management effectiveness and evaluation year

75 % – METT Evaluation (2014)

Sources consulted:
Biodiversity Information System (see here).
Creation Law N° 26.446 (2009)
Management Plan (2018)

Bird and marine mammal colonies: See Bibliography