Home News New Minister of the Sea says if we don’t protect the ocean, “we will spoil tourism”

New Minister of the Sea says if we don’t protect the ocean, “we will spoil tourism”

Published on 12/11/2019

“If there is no sustainable marine environment for biodiversity, we are ruining tourism.” These are the words of Ricardo Serrão Santos, the new minister of the sea, who made his first trip to the Algarve yesterday, to participate in the opening of the public congress “The Stress in the Oceans”, which took place at the University of the Algarve.

Mr. Santos, has extensive experience in this area and was once, in fact, president of the Department of Oceanography and Fisheries at the University of the Azores. At yesterday’s event, the minister listed some of the areas that, in his view, he will make a priority in this legislature.

“There are issues that we have to move on, such as the Marine Protected Areas Network program. The Algarve is a particularly important region from the point of view of tourism development, where ocean and sea play a crucial role.”

However, for Mr. Santos, “a balance of sustainability must be sought between the development of tourism and the maintenance of resources, landscapes and the marine environment.”

He explains: “If there is no sustainable marine environment with biodiversity that attracts and has economic value, we are also ruining tourism.”

On the topic of fishing, he recognizes that it is a crucial part of the region’s economy. The catching of sardines has faced restrictions, and as we highlighted only a couple of weeks ago, catching anchovies was prematurely banned for the remainder of this year after the majority of the national quota of sardines allowed to be caught was used up by large industrial fleets in the North of Portugal.

Faced with the issue of these quotas, the minister said that “fishing must be managed”. “We have to take into account scientific knowledge, but also maintain a constant dialogue with the communities themselves,” he explained. “There are a lot of elements of uncertainty – especially in times of climate change – and I think this dialogue is very importnt the fishermen. There are financial instruments that have been applied, such as offsets,” he added in remarks to reporters.

Moreover, Santos argued that, in this legislature, there are general issues “we have to develop”, such as pushing for a “bet on blue renewable energy, biotechnology and aquaculture. These are future issues with little impact on climate change ” he said.

This international congress meeting, which ran over two days from yesterday until today, at Algarve University’s Gambelas Campus, aims to discuss – and examine – the state of the ocean.

“The conference will be held in celebration of University’s 40th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of the Marine and Environmental Research Centre (CIMA). We want to make it known that we are part of the global assessment of the state of the ocean that is being carried out by the United Nations” explained Maria João Bebianno, coordinator of CIMA.

The main themes which were discussed at the meeting included issues such as plastics, tourism, fishing management and “the next decade of the ocean that will define the entire strategy for research”.  Also present at the opening session was Alan Simcock, coordinator of the United Nations Integrated Ocean State Assessment Expert Group. He said, regarding this meeting, that “the ocean’s protection is crucial”.