Naval presence

THE PORTUGUESE navy is to boost its presence in Ria Formosa, near Faro, to monitor pollution and fight drug and human trafficking.

In a three day visit to the headquarters of Zona Marítima do Sul, the department in charge of controlling the Algarve coastline and rivers, the navy’s most senior officer, Melo Gomes, said new and more sophisticated boats are being built in Viana do Castelo shipyard, in the north of Portugal.

The new equipment is due to increase the number of inspections in the Ria Formosa area, where illegal house construction has led to water and sand pollution in recent years.

Drug trafficking in that part of the Algarve was also mentioned by the navy’s spokesman as was illegal immigration. According to Melo Gomes, there are “no guarantees that more illegal immigrants won’t try to get in the country by boat” as it happened in mid December, when a group of 23 illegal immigrants from Morocco beached on Culatra Island, near Olhão (see The Resident’s December 21, 2007 edition).

The Algarve area is presently patrolled by a total of 200 men, three speed boats and other smaller patrolling boats. “Our aim is to maintain the Algarve region as a privileged tourism destination, secure and environmentally preserved as much as possible”, Melo Gomes said.

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