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Horta ,  June 04, 2020

Regional Government promotes marine litter mapping on the islands of Faial and Pico under LIFE Azores Natura project

The Regional Director for Sea Affairs revealed that the initial conservation works at sea have already begun as part of the "Coastal Habitats Management" action under LIFE IP Azores Natura, the largest conservation project ever created for the Azores.

Exploratory dives are being carried out for the mapping of litter on the seabed of three classified marine areas, namely the Caldeirinhas Natural Reserve on Faial Island, the Baixa do Sul in the Faial-Pico canal and the Madalena Islets on Pico Island.

According to Filipe Porteiro, this is "a conservation action in the reefs and areas within the Natura 2000 Network, such as Caldeirinhas, the first marine reserve of the Region," classified in 1984, and is primarily intended to "recover these habitats by removing the litter deposited."

"This is the first activity for prospecting and identifying the most problematic areas," the government official said, adding that "it will be followed by the mapping phase in order to accurately determine where the litter is located and understand how it is deposited there."

With the results of these exploratory dives, there are plans to design maps and fine tune the protocols for the subsequent removal of existing marine litter throughout the summer.

The Regional Director stressed that "the final habitat recovery action intends to involve the maritime-tourism sector and society in cleaning actions, so that they may explore the beauty of these reefs that are part of the Natura 2000 Network."

Filipe Porteiro also stated that, after the litter is removed, "it will be possible to carry out subsequent monitoring actions to assess the litter deposition rates in these areas."

According to the Regional Director, the areas covered by this action are in "different situations," given that one of the areas is fully protected and the other two have a lower degree of protection.

"The Madalena Islets area has accumulated litter dating back from five or six centuries ago, which has been deposited and covered by sediments, as well as litter thrown into the sea or that floats and is subsequently deposited in that area."
Accordingly, it will be possible to compare this area, "historically used for fishing and navigation," that has become a fisheries restricted area since 2016 "with the Baixa do Sul reed, used for fishing, and the Caldeirinhas Reserve, where human activities are banned."

Within the scope of LIFE Azores Natura, several actions are being planned and developed in its marine component to complement existing conservation measures, namely this type of actions aimed at the recovery of marine habitats, the control of invasive marine species and the monitoring of human activities at sea.

The dives for the mapping of marine litter are coordinated by the Regional Directorate for Sea Affairs with the collaboration of the company Flying Sharks.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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