The Regional Government of Madeira recently announced the creation of the largest Marine Protected Area with full protection in Europe and the entire North Atlantic, through the approval of a new legal regime that covers the Natural Reserve of the Selvagens Islands, which also marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of this Reserve.
The declaration of this marine area of total protection covers a territory of 2,677 square kilometers, in an area of 12 nautical miles around the Selvagens Islands. Previously, the protected area only covered approximately 95 square kilometers. In this extension, all the existing species in the new protected territory are now fully protected from any extractive activities like fishing or aggregate exploitation.
The reinforcement and extension of the protection of the Selvagens Islands will contribute to the increase of marine diversity, genetic richness, and reproductive capacity of species, including many with commercial interest. It will also ensure the integrity of ecosystems, contributing to better marine conservation of the entire North-East Atlantic.
"The current global challenges of climate emergency and the species extinction crisis require exemplary actions at a European and global level, with this decision of the Regional Government of Madeira being a response to those challenges. In a context where the ocean is one of the ecosystems most affected by climate change and its over-exploitation, this decision reinforces the commitment made by Portugal at the 2017 United Nations Oceans Conference to considerably increase its protected marine areas, and contributes to the implementation of the European Union's Biodiversity Strategy for 2030″, concludes the statement.
This decision is supported by scientific and legal studies and by data collected in expeditions carried out in recent years. The Blue Ocean Foundation, National Geographic and the Waitt Institute contributed with part of the data that scientifically support the decision now announced.
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