CCMAR and Oceano Azul refute Quarpesca's criticism of the Pedra do Valado Marine Park

Quarpesca's arguments «do not correspond to the reality of the facts»

The Center for Marine Sciences (CCMAR) of the University of Algarve and the Oceano Azul Foundation refute the criticisms of the Quarpesca fishermen's association regarding the future Marine Natural Park of Recife in the Algarve – Pedra do Valado, arguing that this was a «participatory process» and that this will be the marine protected area with the «most complete set of previous studies» in Portugal. 

The position of CCMAR and Fundação Oceano Azul, promoters of the Marine Natural Park of Recife in the Algarve, comes after a very critical statement from Quarpesca.

In it, the fishermen's association, which even promoted a demonstration this Saturday, August 19, leaves several criticisms of the process - something that I had already done it in June, right after the presentation of the project.

One of the failures pointed out by this entity to the submitted proposal, What resulted from a previous participation process, coordinated by CCMAR, in partnership with the Oceano Azul Foundation, is the «absence of studies of the social, economic and even cultural impact that the implementation of this project would have».

In response, CCMAR and the Oceano Azul Foundation recall that there was "strong support given by society to the process of creating a new Marine Protected Area in Portugal, including the main fishing associations in the area of ​​the new Marine Natural Park of Recife do Algarve – Pedra do Valado (PNMRA-PV)».

In addition, they point out, «this is the protected marine area with the most complete set of previous studies known in Portugal, especially in terms of mapping marine habitats, biodiversity, the spatial distribution of human activities, in particular the effort of the multipurpose and seine fishing'.

«These studies were carried out mainly by CCMAR and include: the scientific study of the natural values ​​of Recife in the Algarve and the study of the socio-economic impact of fisheries and maritime-tourism activities. Additionally, in the participatory process, the empirical knowledge of the various participating entities, including the fishing sector, was also incorporated», he adds.

All this information, defend the promoters, is public and is included in the dossier supporting the creation of the protected marine area, which was delivered to the government in May 2021.

Another issue raised by the fishermen's association is an alleged "lack of democratic vein on the part of the project's promoters, who proclaimed consensus and participation when it did not exist".


Project presentation session, at the University of Algarve, in June


In view of this, both CCMAR and the Oceano Azul Foundation recall that the «participatory process involved, over almost three years, 89 entities, in a pioneering movement in Portugal».

«The proposal to create the PNMRA-PV resulted from a compromise between the scientific basis for ensuring the effectiveness of the Marine Protected Area and the concerns and requests of the different interested parties. It should be noted the care that has always been taken with associations of professional and recreational fishermen, evident in the holding of complementary meetings to assess their interests and the possibilities of minimizing possible impacts», they add.

«These contacts, namely those promoted in particular by CCMAR, have continued until today, with the establishment of a compensation formula adaptable to fishermen, discussed and validated by the fishing sector in dedicated meetings (with the presence of various associations of fishermen, including Quarpesca), and which includes much more than the allocation of amounts of money, such as proposals for improvements in auctions, better infrastructure to support fishing and removal of garbage from the seabed», it also reads.

The promoters also recall that «other proposals were included, not directly related to fishing activity, but that will benefit the entire region, such as the creation of museums or fundamental interpretive centers for raising awareness of the importance of protecting our natural heritage for generations to come future”.

Even so, claiming the lack of these studies, Quarpesca itself says that it «proceeded with an economic impact study through the consultation of around 50 vessels» associated with it and that operate regularly in the Pedra do Valado area, «having reached values very close to 3 million euros per year (the lives of many families are at stake)."

The numbers are criticized by CCMAR and Fundação Oceano Azul for being «substantially inflated», since they are based on «an incorrect premise».

«The value of 3 million is based on the possibility that the vessels from Quarteira stop fishing in the entire area of ​​the Park. This scenario is not, nor has it ever been, foreseen. In most of the area of ​​the new Marine Natural Park (>85%), fishing will be allowed, especially for local artisanal fishing, which represents most of the vessels on the Quarpesca list (>60%)», reads if not communicated.

«The calculation of this figure also included coastal purse seine vessels with revenues in excess of 1,3 million euros, which will be able to continue their work in the area they normally use to capture pelagic fish species (outside/off the Pedra do Valado). Therefore, the value of potential losses should be a small percentage of the announced value and it is estimated that it is in line with the amounts foreseen for the compensation of the fishermen of this association, in their adaptation to the new rules», add CCMAR and Oceano Azul.

As for the criticism that the area that is actually immediately off limits to fishing is not specified, both entities explain that «the proposal presented to the Government, and discussed with all entities, already contemplates these issues».

«They will be determined by the Special Program, which, as foreseen by the law, will be elaborated after the approval of the Classification Act, as disclosed in the public presentation session of the Parque Marinho, promoted by the Government, on the 5th of June, and to which Quarpesca was invited to participate and did not attend".

Another of Quarpesca's accusations is that the "preservation of an exclusive area for small-scale fishing between six and eight miles, without vessels operating with trawling gear", was an advanced measure, but discarded.

«This situation was not considered in the process of creating the Marine Park, because it is far beyond the proposed limits for the area, and as such, it was never framed with its objectives, nor, therefore, did the associations of fishermen of the dragging were invited, nor were present», defend the promoters.


Pedra do Valado reefs – Photo: João Rodrigues


«In other words, the creation of a large multipurpose coastal fishing reserve, excluding trawling and other human activities, was not part of the design of this Marine Park. The extension of the marine area to the aforementioned zone could be interesting on several levels, but would require the inclusion of these players in the entire process, or in a new one, dedicated to this issue. It should be noted that, even so, the proposal was included in the report on the compensation measures carried out by CCMAR, as a measure to be analyzed, at the request of the fishermen's associations present at the bilateral meetings held at the time with the sector», they add.

As for the compensatory measures, Quarpesca considers that the formula found by CCMAR was «totally unreasonable and unfair».

This research center does not see the situation in the same light.

«It is important to clarify that, in Portugal, there is no legal obligation to allocate compensatory funds in the process of creating Marine Protected Areas. Even so, and in an unprecedented action, the Government committed itself to the establishment of compensation mechanisms for fishermen. Based on a set of principles of justice, CCMAR elaborated and proposed a formula, in collaboration with all fishing associations and the DGRM, which provided the necessary information. The financial compensation model subsequently selected by the Government is based on this formula, which was not contested by the sector in dedicated meetings (with the presence and participation of several associations, including Quarpesca)».

«Effectively, the percentage of allocation of vessels to the protected area was given by the associative leaders, with the remaining considerations being made in order to value the local fishing vessels (<9m), closer to the Marine Park and which, as such, would have more difficulties to move to other fishing grounds», defends the CCMAR.

In this joint statement, CCMAR and the Oceano Azul Foundation also refute other information – saying that it is not “true” – such as those related to the areas of seagrass meadows, which will have protection, the restrictions on tourist activities, which will take place, or the lack of consultation with the IPMA, but which, explain the promoters, «was an integral part of the process, having supported it in all phases».

«The new species discovered for science and for Portugal, in the park area, reveal above all that the place is unique in terms of complexity and richness of rocky habitats, and that these areas would have been less accessible to fishing, and to studies, which are much more recent. The protection of marine ecosystems and responsible and effectively managed fisheries are carried out through the application of various measures, including tools such as marine protected areas, which are commonly used in the world's most developed countries and, with everyone's help, will be increasingly another reality in Portugal and, in particular, in the Algarve», he concludes.


Read some more!
A strong region needs a strong press and, these days, the press depends on its readers. We make all Sul Infomação content available free of charge, because we believe that it is not through barriers that the public approaches responsible and quality journalism. Therefore, your contribution is essential.  
Contribute here!