Sea Minister fails to protect Ria Formosa seahorse population
Portugal’s Minister for the Sea, noted for her fervent desire to promote offshore oil drilling and deep sea mining in national waters, has made a politically expedient move by hinting that the government may designate parts of the the Ria Formosa lagoon as a seahorse santuary.
Ana Paula Vitorino’s ‘intention’ is that seahorses should be protected from illegal fishing, boat traffic and climate change.
Vitorino has had her entire term of office to protect this rare creature but her intention is still ‘in the planning stages’ despite the species suffering a 90% reduction in numbers since 2001.
This Tuesday, the Minister visited the Ramalhete Center in Faro, managed by the University of Algarve’s Sea Science Center and announced her rather weak and certainly tardy, sound byte.
“The creation of seahorse sanctuaries is one reason we came here, to contact investigators to absorb the information that is needed to do this planning,” Vitorino told reporters.
“We are currently in the process of approval by the Council of Ministers of the Maritime Spatial Planning Plan. We are also beginning to design the Plans for Marine Protected Areas and, in concert with this, we want to have seahorse sanctuaries here,” she explained, not offering any explanation as to why she has waited years and achieved nothing.
The figures may not be accurate, but estimates point to a reduction from 2 million in 2001 to just 100,000 last year.