Culatra will have an anchorage with biodiversity and sustainability in mind

The project has financing of half a million euros guaranteed by the Environmental Fund

Photo: Mariana Carriço|Sul Informação

The dream is 20 years old and seems to have only advantages, both for the environment and sustainability, and for safety in the Ria Formosa, but only now have the conditions been created to build an anchorage in front of the fishing center of Culatra, whose installation should be completed, if all goes well, by the end of 2024.

The protocol for financing the studies and implementation of the structure, a sum of around 500 thousand euros from the Environmental Fund, was signed on December 21st, in a ceremony that took place on Ilha da Culatra and was attended by João Paulo Catarino, Secretary of State for Nature Conservation and Forests, ICNF officials, members of the Culatra Island Residents Association and the researchers whose work will frame the completion of this work.

As part of this project, 57 mooring posts will be created, 46 of which are up to 12 meters and the rest up to 18 meters, in an area located in front of the Culatra nucleus, which researchers from the Center for Marine and Environmental Research (CIMA) of the University of Algarve and the Center for Marine Sciences (CCMAR) have been highlighting in recent years.

The management of this anchorage will be the responsibility of the Residents Association of Ilha da Culatra and the revenue it generates will go towards a sustainability project in this fishing center, where the Culatra 2030 project, which aims to create a sustainable energy community on this island by the end of the decade.

Above all, this anchorage will make it possible to organize the anchoring of vessels in front of the Culatra nucleus, where around 200 boats were anchored during the summer, without any regulation, with strong impacts on the environment and the safety of navigation in the Ria Formosa.


André Pacheco and Jorge Gonçalves – Photo: Hugo Rodrigues | Sul Informação


«Basically, we are going to reduce hundreds of vessels that were in complete disorganization to 57 and, now, in an orderly manner. But, much better than that, are the gravity moorings. I'm going to call them environmentally friendly buoys, to simplify", he revealed, on the sidelines of the protocol signing session Jorge Gonçalves, researcher at CCMAR.

«There is a pile, a weight at the bottom, which will be an artificial reef. It will be made to have holes and create a new habitat for the organisms of the Ria Formosa. Then, there is a chain that has an intermediate buoy in the water that keeps it suspended. In other words, this current will not drag on the bottom,” he added.

The system has «another buoy, this one on the surface, where the boats connect», for which they have to pay a fee, which will benefit the sustainability of Culatra.

What happens is that «now the anchor is dropped and the chain also goes to the bottom», which promotes the degradation of the bottom and the destruction of the sea grasslands in front of the island, a fundamental element in the Ria Formosa ecosystem.

«We already know that within that area there are areas that are more degraded than others. The objective in the future is, if there are no anchors and boats are limited to anchoring in that area, the entire system around the Ria Formosa can regenerate itself", revealed, for his part, André Pacheco, CIMA researcher and one of the main mentors of Culatra 2030.

Another objective is that even the gravity moorings themselves “can contribute to increasing biodiversity”.

«Boats move with the tide. There is tidal current and also wind. And when they rotate, the chains rotate too. Seen from above, in an aerial photograph, they are just balls that can be seen in the seagrass, due to these currents. This will no longer exist here and, therefore, the seagrasses that still exist can colonize this system and improve the general quality of the river», summarized Jorge Gonçalves.


Sílvia Padinha – Photo: Hugo Rodrigues | Sul Informação


«Our concerns have to do with environmental issues. The revenue that will be generated by the anchorage goes towards an environmental and social fund, which helps families follow the path of sustainability, within the scope of Culatra 20230", he told the Sul Informação Sílvia Padinha, president of AMIC.

«All initiatives that can be channeled towards this challenge that Culatra has embraced of having, by 2030, a set of actions aimed at sustainability, make sense. The management of this anchorage also has this positive indirect consequence", said Nuno Banza, president of the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF).

«The greater the success in making Culatra a sustainable community, the greater the capacity we have for positive contagion to other similar communities, as there are in various parts of the country», he concluded.

The anchorage that will be installed in front of Culatra will be followed by seven others with the same characteristics, in different parts of the Ria Formosa.

«Bathymetry, biological and impact studies will also be carried out in seven more locations, which cover the areas of Armona, Farothe Faro», revealed to the Sul Informação Castelão Rodrigues, ICNF regional director for the Algarve.

In other words, it is still necessary to do what CIMA and CCMAR have been doing in the last three years – which will serve as the basis for what is done in the future.

«The idea was to try to implement what is in the regulations of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, which are concession areas for anchoring, and these areas would be explored by local associations and local communities«, explained André Pacheco.

«Over the last three years, we have drawn up execution plans for a maritime marking project, which was a very long process, which went through several stages and obtained approval from the ICNF, the CCDR, the APA», he explained.

It was this work that allowed the signing of the Environmental Fund protocol, for the construction of the Culatra anchorage.

«To start this work, we have to survey the reference situation, which is what we are doing here today. CCMAR has been working on the biological part, CIMA has been working on the physical part. What we are going to do next is the entire work sheet so that we can execute and implement the anchorage,” he concluded.



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