The Kirchnerite government headed by president Alberto Fernandez announced on Sunday, at the opening of the 138th congressional session, the new focus of the Malvinas Islands/Antarctica policy which will emphasize the sovereignty claim over the South Atlantic Islands, particularly the Falklands, and sanction those fishing companies operating in the area.
Addressing the full congress and sitting next to vice president Cristina Kirchner and the head of the Lower House, Sergio Massa, president Fernandez said that our common home has a bleeding wound in the deepest of our sovereignty feeling, the usurpation of the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, which received a resounding acclamation from congress members.
The president then announced three bills with the purpose of strengthening the territorial sovereignty of Argentina, which would be sent to Congress very soon.
The first refers to the creation of the National Council of Affairs Referred to the Malvinas Islands, which was described as a plural space to ensure medium and long term State policies on the issue. The council will have representatives from the opposition, academia, judiciary, the Tierra del Fuego province and Malvinas Veterans. The bill had already been anticipated in president Fernandez inauguration speech on 10 December.
The second initiative refers to a bill on the demarcation of the outer limit of Argentina's continental shelf, (up to 350 miles), bases on the US Law of the Sea, which will contribute to consolidate sovereignty rights over resources on the sea bed and subsurface. Fernandez added that the bill together with the publication of the coordinates will increase the legal guarantees for awarding concessions for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons, minerals and species.
Fernandez emphasized that the bill will crystallize the UN acknowledgement of Argentina's work, for over two decades, through the National Commission for the External Limits of the continental shelf, as an example of state policy. The UN also recognizes that there are zones in dispute in the area, surrounding South Atlantic islands and Antarctica.
Finally the third initiative and bill refers to the modification of the Federal Fisheries Scheme with the purpose of applying stricter sanctions on all those vessels illegally fishing in those spaces under Argentine jurisdiction or in waters over which Argentina has sovereignty jurisdiction, which includes the Malvinas Islands”.
The original fines ranging from one to five million dollars, when the Argentine Peso was equivalent to a greenback, no longer have the same effect now that the one US dollar is equivalent to some 80 Argentine Pesos.
Apparently Argentina has identified five companies involved in fisheries and hydrocarbons activities in the Falklands that also have interests in the continent.