Giant kelp forests are globally important foundation species, covering 28% of the world’s marine coasts. However, almost 40% of these forests have disappeared in the last 50 years, making the Patagonian coastline a crucial refuge for these underwater ecosystems. Along the Argentine coast, kelp forests thrive, encompassing approximately 100 km2, primarily composed of the species Macrocystis Pyrifera. These forests are highly productive and diverse, surpassing even terrestrial forests in productivity and diversity.
Habitat-forming foundation species like kelp forests are extremely important for coastal ecosystem productivity and biodiversity. They provide shelter, food, and nursery habitats for diverse organisms. Kelp forests contribute to nutrient cycling, water filtration, and shoreline protection, vital for maintaining the health and resilience of coastal ecosystems.
As part of the project to establish a Marine Protected Area (MPA) corridor, the Por El Mar Foundation will implement a pilot project with GreenWave for regenerative kelp farming. We advocate for policies regulating kelp extraction, aiming to prohibit the harvest of native kelp forests and declare Macrocystis Pyrifera as a Natural Monument. We also recognize the potential to develop the non-existent kelp farming industry in Argentina, focusing on positive outcomes for marine life and communities.
Our objective is to create a pilot model of a regenerative ocean farm on a small scale. This model showcases to coastal communities in Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego the low-impact and productive potential of regenerative kelp farming, particularly in buffer areas near marine protected areas. By inspiring sustainable practices, we strive to lay the foundation for a community-led kelp farming industry in Argentina.