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Algés ,  January 29, 2020

Azores set 40 targets to be achieved in six years to maintain good environmental status of marine waters

The Regional Director for Sea Affairs stated in Algés that the Azores "are committed to continuously improving" the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which is now in its second cycle.
Filipe Porteiro stressed that the Region “has been intensifying” monitoring programmes and measures with regional, national and international partners from Macaronesia and the Atlantic Arc, both public and private entities, “to improve and maintain the good environmental status marine of the archipelago's waters and, consequently, the conservation of biodiversity.”
The Regional Director spoke at the presentation session of the reports of the second cycle of the MSFD, promoted by the Ministry of the Sea, guaranteeing that the marine waters of the Azores are "in good environmental condition."
Filipe Porteiro said the Region has set 40 targets "to be achieved in the next six years, which will contribute to the good environmental status of marine waters," adding that they will also "meet the criteria of the 11 environmental descriptors of the MSFD."
These 40 goals focus on the reduction of the impact of bottom fishing gear on the benthic, coastal and oceanic ecosystems, without affecting the profitability of fisheries; the decrease in the amount of plastic from land-based sources and fleets operating in the Region, which affects marine ecosystems; the reduction of sea turtle mortality due to accidental catches, or the creation of programmes to monitor coastal resources combined with the biodiversity monitoring, among others.
The Regional Director noted that the implementation of the MSFD "still has some gaps in accepted methodologies and data that limit the response to the criteria of the defined environmental descriptors."
According to Filipe Porteiro, “given the complexity of the obligations arising from the MSFD, the environmental arm of Europe's Integrated Maritime Policy, as well as the costs necessary for its implementation,” the European Commission “should have a specific financing line for monitoring programmes,” similar to the National Data Collection Plan; the latter produces information necessary for the Common Fisheries Policy.
"A monitoring programme for the 11 environmental descriptors, coordinated at the scale of the MSFD sub-regions, is extremely demanding, especially in remote oceanic areas, such as the Macaronesian archipelagos, but also in the Atlantic Arc ocean basins," said the government official.
The reassessment of the environmental status of the Azores marine waters, whose report is under public consultation until February 10, was supported by the scientific advisory from various departments of the University of the Azores, particularly from the Okeanos research centre the Department of Biology and IMAR.
The initial assessment of the environmental status of the Region's marine environment was carried out in 2014 and its reassessment corresponds to the first cycle of implementation of the MSFD, which ran from 2012 to 2018.
In this regard, 11 environmental descriptors were assessed, each according to a set of criteria, covering biodiversity (D1), non-indigenous species (D2), exploitation of commercial species (D3), food ecology and food chains (D4), eutrophication (D5), changes in seabed (D6), change in hydrological patterns (D7), contaminants (in the environment and commercial species for human consumption) (D8 and D9), marine litter (D10) and marine noise (D11).
In addition to the assessment of descriptors, the process also encompassed the analysis of activities, pressures and impacts on the marine environment as well as an economic and social analysis of the Region's maritime space.


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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