PAN supports limit on dolphin and whale watching in the Algarve

The Institute for Nature and Forests Conservation published a notice on establishing a load capacity for dolphin and whale watching activities.

Olhão, Faro and Loulé PAN (People–Animals–Nature party) municipal deputies have pointed out that an important step in the right direction has been taken in protecting and preserving marine life and its ecosystems. This statement comes following a notice from the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF), published on December 22, on the need to establish a limit to load capacity for whale-watching activities on the Algarve coast.

According to the notice, 22 cetacean species, about a quarter of all existing species on the planet, have been sighted in the Algarve.

“We always view news about actions that contribute to protecting and preserving species and ecosystems, limiting the negative impacts of human action, very favourably. It is important that these actions are not just good intentions on paper and that they are actually applied and, above all, supervised”, emphasises Ana Poeta, PAN member in the Municipal Assembly of Loulé.

The document states that the recent increase in tourist pressure in the Algarve, in particular on cetacean populations, raises increased management concerns, […] given the touristic and recreational whales and dolphins observation activities, going from 13 vessels licensed in 2008 to a total of 124 vessels in December 2022, for the same area.

“The pressure is immense. It is urgent to define a load capacity for this lagoon system, limiting, controlling, and supervising the number of vessels that navigate and use it as an anchorage, destroying and damaging these ecosystems. The Ria Formosa is one of Portugal’s seven natural wonders, a wetland with a great diversity of ecosystems and high biodiversity. We must protect and preserve it”, says Alexandre Pereira, a municipal deputy in Olhão, noting that this type of measure should also be extended to the Ria Formosa Natural Park.

For Paulo Baptista, a member of Faro’s Municipal Assembly and the Algarve Intermunicipal Assembly, the definition and implementation of a load limit for the Ria Formosa Natural Park is essential. In his view, the development strategies of the municipalities that share the Ria Formosa are primarily based on exploiting its economic resources without any environmental brake to prevent over-exploitation.

“No one knows how many boats sail in the Ria Formosa, what pollution they generate, the acceptable noise level, the damage caused by paint particles from the hulls, the spillage of hydrocarbons and CO2 emissions from combustion engines, and the impact of human activities in the ecosystem. This is serious. If we want to be really serious about protecting the Ria Formosa Natural Park, then we first need to defend a study on its load capacity and create mechanisms that promote the decarbonisation of nautical mobility”, emphasises Paulo Baptista.

The PAN representatives reinforced that throughout their mandates, they will continue to present measures that promote the preservation and regeneration of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.