The Regional Director for Sea Affairs in Horta praised today the “cooperation capacity” among regional entities of the outermost regions of Macaronesia regarding the “coordination and implementation of European projects.”
Filipe Porteiro spoke on behalf of the Regional Secretary for the Sea, Science and Technology at the opening session of the initial meeting of the European project “Macaronesian Maritime Spatial Planning (MarSP).”
“We believe that this Macaronesian maritime space planning project will contribute to the regional coherence of policies aimed at promoting the sustainable use of our marine resources,” said the government official. According to him, this is a “decisive step” for the archipelagos of Macaronesia regarding “maritime policies.”
In his speech, the Regional Director stressed that maritime spatial planning is “a fundamental mechanism for the promotion of a sustainable maritime economy with the aim of mitigating potential conflicts between sectors and interests.”
For Felipe Porteiro, a “robust” maritime spatial planning system “creates predictability, encourages investments, reduces conflicts, protects the environment and strengthens trust, coordination and cooperation among all interested parties.”
The Regional Director pointed out that the Regional Government’s policies for this area “take into consideration the necessary coordination between the conservation of marine ecosystems with the development and enhancement of human activities at sea.”
Filipe Porteiro stated that the Region has a “very relevant” marine environmental legal framework that promotes the sustainability of economic activities linked to the sea. Therefore, “maritime spatial planning has to take into account these environmental policies.”
“We are implementing a formal and robust maritime spatial planning system, taking into account the European directive and the national legislation on this matter, without neglecting the Region’s powers in the management of its maritime space,” said the government official.
In this regard, Filipe Porteiro considered that the MarSP project is “a fundamental vehicle for streamlining this process in the context of active public participation, involving all those linked to sea-related activities.”
In the Azores, this project runs until the end of 2019 and is endowed with a budget over 700 thousand Euros. According to Filipe Porteiro, “it will strengthen the position of Macaronesia at European level in terms of the maritime territory because it represents a significant part of the European sea, with acknowledged economic potential and a growing demand by several ‘blue economy’ agents.”
Filipe Porteiro stressed that the cooperation between the archipelagos of Macaronesia will be “crucial for enhancing marine resources” as well as for “the progress and well-being” of their societies.
In addition to the MarSP, the Regional Director mentioned other projects involving the administrations and scientific teams of the three Macaronesian regions, which are funded by the European Horizon 2020 programme, such as the ATLAS project. Moreover, he pointed initiatives financed by the Interreg mechanisms (MAC and Atlantic Area), namely the MUSES and PLASMAR projects, as well as the GPS and MAPGES; both are financed by funds managed by the Regional Fund for Science and Technology (FRCT).
This project, amounting to more than two million Euros, is coordinated by FRCT. In addition to the Regional Directorate for Sea Affairs of the Government of the Azores, it also involves the Regional Directorate for Spatial Planning of the Government of Madeira, the Directorate General of Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services and the Directorate General of Sea Policy, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography and the Universities of Seville, Cadiz and Las Palmas (Gran Canaria).
The University of the Azores is a member of the Advisory Board of this project and will advise the regional administration regarding the implementation of the maritime spatial planning system, given the recognised technical-scientific knowledge of the University’s teams.
The meeting, which runs until Thursday, involve thirty participants, including members of UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and researchers from the University of the Azores and MARE (Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre).