The Gorringe Bank – a deepwater seamount home to hundreds of marine species and located around 160 nautical miles southwest of the Algarve’s Cape St Vincent – has been included on the government’s National List of Sites (Lista Nacional de Sítios, or LNS).
The bank is now part of the Portuguese area of Rede Natura 2000, the EU-wide network of nature protection areas.
The government will also be asking the EU to name the bank a Site of Community Importance.
An announcement to this effect was made on the government’s official newspaper Diário da República and has been praised by Oceana, an international ocean conservation organisation.
“It is very rewarding to finally hear the news that the Gorringe Bank will be protected,” said Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe.
“Oceana began working towards protecting these unique seamounts more than 10 years ago. The decision by Portugal encourages us to continue our investigations of the deep sea,” he added.
Oceana has found more than 350 species living in and around the bank, including the loggerhead turtle and common bottlenose dolphin.
The proposal to put Gorringe Bank on the national list was put forward by the Institute for Nature and Forest Conversation (ICNF).
Discovered in 1875 during a coastal survey by the United States, the bank has two distinct peaks, Gettysburg and Ormonde, and was thought to be one of the trigger points of Portugal’s devastating 1755 earthquake.