LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL (RAMPA)
The sea of the Azores archipelago is located at the western end of Europe, the sea adjacent to this archipelago represents 56% of the Portuguese sea, covering approximately 1 million square kilometers.
There are currently 50 AMPs in the Azores, 15 oceanic (Parque Marinho dos Açores) and 35 coastal (Parques Naturais de Ilha).
REVIEW OF THE AZORES MARINE PROTECTED AREAS NETWORK
In 2023, the Regional Government committed to reviewing Oceanic MPAs, in order to protect 30% of the Azores sea. This review materializes in the 2nd amendment to the Azores Marine Park diploma. The review of coastal MPAs is scheduled for 2024.
The review of the Marine Park increases the oceanic MPAs from 15 to 29, located in the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) and the PCE (Extended Continental Shelf):
• 23 AMP within the EEZ
• 6 AMP at PCE
• 498,000Km2 protected in the EEZ and PCE
• 287,000Km2 in the EEZ
The revised Azores Marine Park will protect 30% of the EEZ:
• with 16% of total protection areas, without extractive activities (9 areas).
• with 14% high protection areas (14 areas).
RAMPA PROTECTION LEVELS
Oceanic MPAs, within the EEZ, will have two levels of protection:
Total Protection: extractive or destructive activities are excluded, aiming to minimize all pressure on the ecosystem. According to the IUCN classification (category I), these MPAs are designated marine natural reserves.
High Protection: only extractive activities with low environmental impact are permitted, and other impacts are minimized. According to the IUCN classification (category IV), these are MPAs for habitat or species management.
THE AZORES MARINE PROTECTED AREAS NETWORK INCLUDES:
• Parque Marinho dos Açores (PMA) includes all oceanic MPAs in the EEZ and continental shelf.
• 9 Island Natural Parks (PNI), includes coastal MPAs.
THE NEW RAMP WILL FULLY PROTECT SOME IMPORTANT UNDERWATER MOUNTS, SUCH AS THE PRINCESS ALICE, THE D. JOÃO DE CASTRO, THE ANTS AND THE CONDOR
THE CONDOR SUBMARINE MOUNT:
A CASE STUDY IN THE AZORES
It was designated as an oceanic MPA in 2016, with bottom fishing prohibited since 2010. Condor has demonstrated clear benefits, resulting from its high level of implementation.
Monitoring has revealed that, since its creation, there has been an increase in the abundance (400%) and size of seabream, considered one of the most important commercial species in the Azores.
REVIEW OF THE AZORES MARINE PROTECTED AREAS NETWORK (RAMPA)
The Regional Government of the Azores opened a Public Consultation on the proposed amendment to the current Regional Legislative Decree that aims to review the Azores Marine Protected Areas Network (RAMPA), of which the Azores Marine Park is a part.
This proposal is well-founded in scientific research and involves a participatory process that included representatives from various sectors related to marine activities, present in 43 meetings. The new Azores Marine Park will encompass oceanic Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that will protect 30% of the Azores' waters, with half of that area completely off-limits to any extractive activities. This legislation also outlines the legal framework for managing the new network.
In this proposal, the coastal Marine Protected Areas remain under the current legal framework of Island Natural Parks. As part of the Blue Azores Program, a participatory process for the review of coastal MPAs began in January 2023, involving the community.
The ocean plays a crucial role in the planet's sustainability. The implementation of Marine Protected Areas contributes to mitigating the impacts of climate change and conserving marine biodiversity, from which a truly sustainable blue economy can be established.
The Regional Government of the Azores placed the draft amendment to the Regional Legislative Decree in force of the Azores Marine Park.
From July 24th to September 15th, 2023, RAMPA was open to public discussion, with:
Total 56 calendar days
+ 22 days than the legal deadline.
3 public sessions in Faial, Terceira e São Miguel that
mobilized >120 participantes
Sep 15th: End of Public Consultation.
Oct 16th: Meeting of the Regional Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CRADS) for consideration and opinion on the proposed legislation.