Portugal’s Marine Protected Areas under evaluation

Marine protected areas study to be released after Lisbon oceans conference.

The University of Algarve and the Blue Ocean Foundation are assessing the real situation of the Portuguese Marine Protected Areas, an evaluation that will be delivered to the government after the UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon.

“Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a decisive tool for the protection and recovery of marine species and habitats, to ensure a healthy and productive ocean in the future, but they have to work. In Portugal, there are different types of MPAs and it is necessary to know what they protect and how, if they fulfil their objectives and if they actually protect nature,” Bárbara Horta e Costa, researcher from the Centre for Marine Sciences (CCMAR) at the University of the Algarve involved in the project, told Lusa.

According to Bárbara Hora e Costa, the assessment document that will be delivered to the government is being prepared based on the criteria established by a global study that produced the ‘Guide to Marine Protected Areas‘, a tool considered fundamental in the characterisation of MPAs and that allows the assessment of “the type of protection existing and its potential effectiveness”.

These areas, stressed the researcher, are not all equal, nor have the same level of protection: “The MPA Guide is based on the levels of protection (for example, if you can fish or not) and the stage of implementation [if the MPA exists only on paper or if it is implemented ‘in the water’] and identifies the expected results and basic conditions for them to function,” he said.

“Our management [of MPAs] is weakened because we have no resources,” warned Bárbara Horta e Costa, an expert in marine biology, in statements to Lusa.

The CCMAR and the Blue Ocean Foundation are collaborating to produce the assessment of the Portuguese MPAs, promising, according to Bárbara Horta e Costa, to present the results soon, “right after the oceans conference”.

The team that is producing the document also includes researchers Jorge Gonçalves (CCMAR) and Emanuel Gonçalves (Blue Ocean Foundation).

The United Nations Conference on Oceans will be held in Lisbon between June 27 and July 1 and aims to contribute to the advancement of concrete actions to protect marine ecosystems.

Source: Lusa