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Focused on the conservation and sustainable use of the Azorean Sea, the Blue Azores Program will contribute to protecting, promoting and valuing the rich marine resources of the archipelago.


Blue Azores is the result of an international partnership between the Regional Government of the Azores, the Oceano Azul Foundation and the Waitt Institute, uniting in a single vision of a healthy Azorean Sea and a thriving ocean society.

Working closely with the scientific teams of Okeanos Institute | University of the Azores, this close partnership brings decades of scientific knowledge and expertise from the region to inform each aspect of the program and the implementation of marine protected areas.



  • Declare 30% of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Azores as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), of which 15% as fully protected areas

  • Prepare and implement management plans for all marine protected areas included in the Azores Marine Protected Areas Network (RAMPA), including existing MPAs

  • Develop and adopt a legally implemented "Marine Spatial Plan"

  • Develop restructuring measures for the fisheries sector







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The program will also create new opportunities for sustainable economic development in the Azores, supporting Portugal and the Azores to achieve international objectives set by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (ODS) 14, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

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Blue Azores is operationally supported through extended and specialised teams from the Oceano Azul Foundation and the Waitt Institute, as well as a permanent local team, which works directly with the Regional Government of the Azores and other institutions involved in the program.

Maria João Cruz

Conservation Project Manager of the Blue Azores Program, Maria João has been with Blue Azores from it’s launch in 2019. With a PhD in Marine Sciences, Maria João has lived in the Azores for over fifteen years and has worked at the University of the Azores doing scientific research related to the study of fisheries interactions with cetaceans. She is based on São Miguel island.

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Ana Monteiro

Born in Flores, Ana joined the Blue Azores Program in 2021 as a Consultant. Recognised for the strong civic involvement she has had over the years, particularly in the defence of the environment, Ana contributes her experience in the local social initiatives. She has a degree in Radiology and in European Studies and International Politics, with a Master's Degree in Social-Organizational Intervention in Health.

Adriano Quintela

Operational and Information Manager of the Blue Azores Program. Adriano has a degree in Marine Biology and a Phd in Geography from the University of the Azores, where he called home for over 15 years. During his time in the archipelago, Adriano was involved in coastal and watershed environmental planning projects that also included stakeholders engagement. Adriano worked as an environmental consultant in the offshore oil and gas seismic survey industry and was a researcher at the University of Aveiro, where he was involved in several EU funded projects on Marine Spatial Planning, developing tools to assess environmental cumulative impacts of human activities on marine environments. 

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Mariana Andrade

Mariana is the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Technician in the Blue Azores program. She holds a degree and a Master's in Landscape Architecture, and her first thesis was on recreational diving planning. While working as a landscape architect in public space projects, she completed a postgraduate course in Geographic Information Science and Systems. Later she joined the Programa Doutoral Do Mar em Ciência, Tecnologia e Gestão do Mar, specializing in Integrated Management of the Sea. Her thesis, which she will defend in November 2023, focuses on the efficient monitoring of MPAs, within which she co-organized and facilitated the first collaborative process for the definition of priority indicators for the monitoring of coastal MPAs in mainland Portugal. Split between Faial, Ponta Delgada and Lisbon, she supports the Blue Azores program in the designation and implementation processes of the Azores Marine Protected Area Network and in the development of its management plans.


Mafalda Neuville

Mafalda has been the Blue Azores communication manager since April 2023. She has collaborated for several years with creative teams in the field of communication and brand projects. Graduated in architecture, she also studied decorative arts and co-founded a brand inspired by the reuse of objects and spaces. She has been visiting the Azores for 20 years, where she currently lives with her family. In Ponta Delgada, she recently completed training in the field of sustainability, participatory practices and project financing.

Inês Jorge

Born in Lisbon, Inês has been a digital and content consultant on the Blue Azores team since April 2023. Graduated in Social and Cultural Communication at the Catholic University of Portugal, she is passionate about communication and Marketing, having already collaborated with several companies at national and international level. About 7 years ago she surrendered to the Azores and it was her enthusiasm for the sea and the desire to make a difference that led her to embrace this challenge and join the team.


Catarina Santos

Gestora de Programa do Blue Azores desde abril de 2023, é formada em Engenharia do Ambiente com uma Pós-graduação em Administração e Gestão de Empresas. Representou Portugal no Comité do Rótulo Ecológico da União Europeia, de 2006 a 2008 e acumula desde então 17 anos de experiência em gestão de projeto e de contas, com foco em áreas como educação, ambiente, cultura e tecnologia.
Apaixonada pelos Açores, mudou-se há dois anos para a ilha de Santa Maria, considerando-a o lugar perfeito para viver com a sua família.
A sua preocupação com a sustentabilidade e meio ambiente levou-a a abraçar este desafio no Blue Azores, contribuindo para a conservação e preservação do mar dos Açores.

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