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Horta ,  December 13, 2019

Regional Government to create artificial diving reef on Santa Maria Island

The Regional Secretary for Sea, Science and Technology revealed that the Regional Government will use an old Portuguese Navy ship to create an artificial reef and a privileged place for the proliferation and observation of marine life off the island of Santa Maria.
Gui Menezes pointed out that the Region showed interest with the Ministry of Defence in acquiring a ship that could "serve as a shipwreck to boost diving activities in the Region, more specifically on the island of Santa Maria."
"We now have the confirmation that the 56-metre long ship "Schultz Xavier" is available," the government official said, adding that a series of specifications will be drawn up for its sinking.
In statements to journalists, the Regional Secretary assured that "the environmental rules set out in these situations will be met" in the cleaning, decontamination and preparation of the ship for sinking.
"After the completion of the aforementioned specifications, a public tender will be launched," Gui Menezes announced, adding that the process will be submitted to the Mar2020 operational programme.
"We believe it will be possible to conclude this process by next year, which will have an estimated cost between 350 and 400 thousand Euros," the government official said, noting that "the most appropriate site for the sinking of the ship will be analysed over the coming months."
The Regional Secretary stated that he sinking will be monitored, "not only from a biological perspective of the organisms that will settle [in the wreck] but also from an economic perspective," through the counting of visitors who will dive in that area in order to assess the economic importance" of this project.
According to Gui Menezes, it will be developed in partnership with the Santa Maria Friends of the Sea Association (AAMAR), which had requested the Regional Government's support to implement a project of this kind.
"It is in the Regional Government's interest [the sinking of the ship] because we are contributing to the blue economy," said the government official. According to him, "there are already examples of shipwreck creation in the country and, in this context, sunken ships "were prepared, complying with all the environmental regulations provided for in these situations."
Gui Menezes stressed that "scuba diving is a very interesting activity that attracts many people.
"We are hopeful that it will be an asset for the Region and, in this particular case, for Santa Maria. This island already has many activities linked to the sea and, accordingly, this will be another point of attraction," said the government official.
The order of the Minister of Defence authorising the transfer of the former Portuguese Republic Ship "Schultz Xavier" to the Regional Secretariat for the Sea, Science and Technology of the Government of the Azores was published in the Official Journal.
In turn, the Regional Secretariat for the Sea, Science and Technology will be responsible to carry out the displacement and sinking of the ship in coordination with the Portuguese Navy, ensuring compliance with the OSPAR Convention on the proposed location and area for the sinking.


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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