José Manuel Bolieiro, President of the Regional Government of the Azores made the announcement on June 27th, 2022 at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal that the country is expanding its marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Azores Archipelago and Madeira to meet its 30×30 commitment to protect 30% of its ocean by 2023.
President Bolieiro says, “Creating the biggest MPA in the North Atlantic is no small feat. This means greater protection for the whales, the sea birds, sea turtles, fish, and so much more that live in these special waters.”
The Azores’ first experiences with marine protected areas date back to the 1980s when a few dispersed, small and inadequately resourced MPAs were established in the archipelago with the broad objective to manage marine resources and conserve biodiversity. However, through joint collaboration between the government, the university, and people and the major growth of ecotourism, more and more areas in the Azores have come under careful protection. In 2019, the Regional Government of the Azores announced the Blue Azores program, in partnership with the Oceano Azul Foundation and the Waitt Institute that led to the declaration of 15% of the Azorean Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) as new no-take marine reserves.