The Regional Government of Madeira has announced the creation of what it claims is the largest Highly Protected Marine Area (HPMA) in Europe by significantly strengthening protections for seabirds and other wildlife in the existing Savage Islands marine reserve.
The reserve covers an area of over 2,600 sq km within a 12 nautical mile radius of the Savage Islands and will be entirely protected from extractive activities such as fishing and mining. The creation of the HPMA will help restore marine biodiversity as well as fish stocks, some of which have value as commercial species, the government said.
The Savage Islands comprise an archipelago in the North Atlantic that lies halfway between the Canary Islands and Madeira.
Oceano Azul Foundation, which supported the creation of the reserve, said it would contribute to better marine conservation throughout the entire Northeast Atlantic, as well as bringing economic development in the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The decision reinforces a commitment made by Portugal at the 2017 United Nations Conference of the Oceans to considerably increase marine protection, in addition to contributing to the European Union’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the organisation added.
The announcement marked the 50th anniversary of the creation of the original Savage Islands marine reserve.
Source: Government of Madeira / Treehugger / Oceano Azul Foundation