‘Ria Formosa seahorse sanctuary’ called for by PAN
Portugal’s nature party wants to see a sanctuary created in the Ria Formosa to save the dwindling seahorse population.
PAN – People-Animals-Nature – has presented outline legislation finally to classify seahorses as a protected species and to create a haven in the Ria Formosa lagoon area for their recovery.
Seahorses are at risk of extinction in Portugal either by the degradation and pollution of their habitat or by the illegal capture for feeding in to the illegal market for Chinese medicines, according to PAN which also states that the occassional capture of illegal nets has proved to be “insufficient” in the protection of species in what already is meant to be a highly protected area.
According to biologist Jorge Palma, from the University of Algarve, the results of the census requested by the Oceano Azul Foundation revealed that the Ria Formosa was home to only about 100,000 seahorses in 2018, in contrast to the 2 million estimated in 2001, representing a decrease of 90% in the population.
“Given this identified high risk, it is clear that the conservation of the species is compromised, thus this requires greater protection at the national level,” states PAN.
The party proposes that seahorses be included in the list of “animal and plant species of Community interest whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservation”, as well as the constitution of sanctuaries with restricted access in the Ria Formosa, thus allowing the local seahorse population to recover and thrive.
PAN also intends that the government assess the ecological condition of the habitats of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and consider limiting economic and recreational activities to “reduce anthropogenic* pressure” and reinforce regular monitoring actions in order to identify pollution, deter illegal fishing and punish offenders.
(chiefly of environmental pollution and pollutants) originating in human activity.