The port captaincy of Portimão decided to prohibit the entry and exit of canoes, kayaks and surfboards on six beaches in the municipality of Lagoa, close to the Benagil cave, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Algarve.
The measure, which came into force on September 10th, aims to “safeguard human life at sea, provide assistance and maintain the safety” of vessels and people visiting that cave, reads a notice dated September 9th. September.
The document, published on the National Maritime Authority's website and signed by the captain of the port of Portimão Eduardo Godinho, states that the measure covers the beaches of Vale Centeanes, Carvalho, Benagil, Marinha, Barranquinho and Albandeira, all in Lagoa.
According to the notice, the measure - which excludes the prohibition in case of relief and emergency - will remain in force "until mechanisms are created that allow controlling the flow of these vessels in the water column adjacent to these beaches", being non-compliances subject to fines.
The captain of the port of Portimão justifies the measure by recalling that the coastal coastline in this area is mostly made up of cliffs, which are «permanently or periodically» exposed to the action of the sea.
«The natural evolution (erosion) of the cliffs takes place in an intermittent and discontinuous sequence of instantaneous landslides, a dynamic that constitutes a danger for users of this coastline», the document reads.
As it is not possible to predict the occurrence of possible landslides and, having seen an exponential increase in tourist activities in recent years, this is a way of safeguarding the safety of bathers who flock there, he notes.
According to Eduardo Godinho, those who rent this equipment end up going to small beaches located in risky areas, without any control to limit the number of users who access the sand and the water column.
In this way, large «accumulations arise in the water column, at the same time as local vessel traffic in the area is also high, often causing accidents between them», he says.
In the notice, the person responsible also points out the fact that users and visitors to the Benagil cave “largely” exceed in number the users of boats in the area, the majority of whom are private individuals or customers of other companies.
When accessing this cave by their own means, they often disembark on the beach inside, which is “entirely covered by risk strips of the cliffs”, that is, entirely contained in an area “potentially affected by debris from possible mass movement”.
Proving this, concludes the captain of the port of Portimão, are the blocks visible on that beach, which «result from debris from previous recorded movements».
The definition of access conditions to the Benagil cave and the need to define a maximum limit on human carrying capacity in the area has already led to the creation of a working group made up of several entities.
O group met for the first time last Wednesday, and the next meeting should take place in the second half of October, according to the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR).
Located next to Benagil beach, in Lagoa, the cave is one of the main tourist attractions in the Algarve, namely the Benagil cave, a vertical cavity in the rock that arouses the curiosity of many tourists.