Portugal to nominate new MPA

31 Jan 2013
Laminaria (Laminaria ochroleuca) and other algae. © OCEANA/ Carlos Suárez

Laminaria (Laminaria ochroleuca) and other algae. © OCEANA/ Carlos Suárez

The Gorringe seamounts have been nominated by the Portuguese government to become a Marine Protected Area.

Located 300km off the Portuguese shore, these 5000m high peaks are home to diverse sea life.

The Gorringe seamounts are home to a wide range of fauna and flora due to their broad bathymetric distribution. The Gettysburg and Ormonde peaks almost reach the surface, allowing the establishment of large algae communities, including kelp forests. On their slopes, sponge aggregations, coral gardens, and detrital seabeds give rise to highly complex ecosystems, while great pelagic species, such as whales, sharks, swordfish, and seabirds, live in their waters.

In October 2012, Oceana, launched its latest expedition to the Gorringe area, which revealed species never seen before in these seamounts, such as roughskin dogfish, nest sponges, and various black corals. But it also found signs of deterioration in an almost pristine area, such as waste and the remains of fishing gear, particularly in rocky seabeds where the long-lived deep-sea perch, which can live for more than 125 years, is found.

“The nomination of the Gorringe as a protected area in the Atlantic brings hope to ocean recovery,” says Ricardo Aguilar, Head of Research at Oceana in Europe. “Portugal is the country with the least protected surface in Europe, and it must make great efforts to meet European and UN goals to conserve at least 10% of its marine surface”.

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