The Blue Azores Program was born in 2019 from a partnership between the Regional Government of the Azores, the Oceano Azul Foundation and the Waitt Institute, which came together around a common vision - to protect, promote and value the marine natural capital of the Azores - which supports an ambition to ensure a healthy ocean as the basis of a prosperous and sustainable blue economy.
The science produced in the Azores has supported sustainable management and conservation measures in recent decades. Despite this, less than 5% of the territorial sea and EEZ of the Azores have some type of protection status, leaving important natural values vulnerable.
Therefore, steps were taken to accelerate the protection of the Azores Sea:
2019 - The memorandum of understanding between the XII Regional Government of the Azores and the partners was signed to create the Blue Azores Program, with the commitment to create Marine Protected Areas with total protection in 15% of the Azores Sea.
2021 - The XIII Regional Government of the Azores reaffirmed its commitment to protection and reinforced this ambition by implementing the target for 30% protection by 2023, bringing forward national and international deadlines.
Why 30% Protection?
1. The ecosystems of the Azores Sea are threatened due to climate change, pollution and overexploitation.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are the most effective instrument for the protection and recovery of marine life. Using the best scientific information as well as community involvement is the way to guarantee its adequate implementation and management.
2. The Azores Sea contains unique natural values that must be protected.
3. National and international policies define targets of 30% protection:
2021 - National Sea Strategy 2030
For effective protection of natural values in 2030, it is essential to legally create MPAs now, so that they can be properly implemented and produce effects.
1. Science unequivocally shows the urgency of protecting the ocean. Each year of inaction is equivalent to a loss of value, impacting all sectors linked to the sea.
2. Azoreans are tied to the sea: socially, culturally, economically and through identity.
3. The Regional Government of the Azores has committed to leading by example in the management and protection of its sea.
4. It is critical to approve the creation of the the Azores Marine Protected Areas Network (RAMPA) now so that its implementation by 2030 is possible. Implementation is not immediate, a support strategy needs to be developed, management plans approved and human and financial resources allocated to ensure the effective management of this network.
Protect 30% of the Azores Sea through marine protected areas with at least 15% of fully protected marine areas.
Prepare and implement management plans for all marine protected areas, including existing ones and those to be designated.
Contribute to marine spatial planning.
Support the restructuring of the fishing sector.