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  • What Are Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)?
    Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are well-defined geographical spaces where human activity is limited to protect natural values and allow the ocean to recover, ensuring the conservation of nature and activities. MPAs protect species and habitats, as well as the ecological integrity of ecosystems, their biodiversity, and productivity because they are areas of reproduction, refuge, migration routes, or where rare species of high natural interest are found. MPAs are assessed based on their implementation status, level of protection, and intended ecological outcomes. Science has shown that MPAs with high or full protection levels allow for greater (and faster) ecological, social, and economic benefits, enabling nature recovery and enhancement.
  • What Are the Benefits of Marine Protected Areas?
    The main benefits of MPAs are: Maintaining existing nature (full protection MPAs). Recovery of degraded ecosystems. For fisheries: protection results in larger, more abundant fish populations and a higher number of juveniles (greater biomass, abundance, and recruitment). Mitigating climate change by promoting carbon sequestration. More resilient ecosystems to external threats such as pollution, extreme events (storms, floods), and erosion, contributing to risk reduction through coastal protection. Increased tourism and recreational activities (economic and health benefits), resulting in improved livelihoods. Protection of social and cultural values. Research and educational opportunities (greater ocean literacy and respect). Just governance (rights and sharing of benefits and responsibilities through transparent and inclusive decision-making processes). By improving the quality of marine ecosystems, sustainable use of natural resources and associated services is promoted, enhancing the value of the tourism, fisheries, and trade sectors. Additionally, it provides educational, scientific, and cultural activities based on healthy and vibrant nature. Well-managed areas with high or full protection promote all these benefits inside and outside protected areas (e.g., through the *spillover effect). In addition to benefits for fishing, MPAs create opportunities to enhance the sea that would not otherwise exist. *Spillover: movement of fish from protected marine areas to surrounding areas.
  • What does RAMPA mean?
    It stands for "Rede de Áreas Marinhas Protegidas dos Açores" in Portuguese, which translates to the "Network of Marine Protected Areas of the Azores," or RAMPA. The current project to amend the Regional Legislative Decree (DLR) proposes the revision of RAMPA, which includes the Azores Marine Park.
  • What is the Blue Azores Program?
    Led by the Regional Government of the Azores in partnership with the Oceano Azul Foundation and the Waitt Institute, with the involvement of the University of the Azores and numerous regional and international partners, Blue Azores serves as the program that aggregates the existing capabilities in the region, focusing on solutions for marine conservation and sustainability. The Blue Azores Program contributes to the protection, promotion, and valuing of the marine resources of the Azores, creating new avenues for the sustainable economic development of the region and the valorization of the natural blue capital. Blue Azores supported the "Revision of the Network of Marine Protected Areas of the Azores" (RAMPA) through two fundamental principles: 1. Utilizing the best available scientific knowledge in the region. 2. Developing a transparent, collaborative, and participatory approach with the aim of jointly creating a solution for RAMPA.
  • What are the Objectives of this Program?
    The main objectives of Blue Azores are: 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. Blue Azores also promotes complementary actions to these objectives through support programs focused on ocean literacy and the development of a sustainable blue economy in the region. Examples include: "Educating for a Blue Generation," which promotes ocean literacy among elementary school students and teacher training to qualify a generation of citizens who are more knowledgeable, aware, responsible, and active concerning the ocean and its conservation. "Blue Bio Value" and other initiatives promoting the blue bioeconomy, with the mission to develop sustainable ocean-based solutions for a new blue bioeconomy by fostering innovation based on scientific and biotechnological foundations for a prosperous and more sustainable world.
  • Why Are the Azores Anticipating the 2023 Targets?
    The President of the Regional Government of the Azores (GRA), José Manuel Bolieiro, announced at the first participatory process meeting on December 3, 2021, that GRA had adopted the objective of protecting 30% of the Azores' sea, with at least 15% of marine areas fully protected. This commitment was reiterated at the United Nations Ocean Conference in 2022, advancing the international commitments to 2023. The Blue Azores Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2019 already provided for the anticipation of these deadlines. This decision was driven by the desire of the Azores to be a national and international example of conservation and sustainable development. The initiative of the Regional Government of the Azores highlighted this region as an international example in a global context where less than 3% of the ocean is effectively protected.
  • Who Funds the Program?
    Blue Azores is primarily funded by the three program partners: the Regional Government of the Azores, the Oceano Azul Foundation, and the Waitt Foundation/Institute.
  • Why is the Goal to Protect 30%?
    Given the global climate emergency and species extinction crisis, the goal of protecting 30% of the ocean aligns with international strategies and commitments to halt biodiversity loss and protect and restore ecosystems by 2050. In December 2022, a historic agreement was reached at the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity: over 190 member states, including Portugal, ratified the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, committing to protect at least 30% of land and marine areas by 2030. The European Union's Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 also envisions a 30% protection target by 2030, aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 (through Sustainable Development Goal 14 - Life Below Water).
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