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Marine Park History

The waters of the Arrábida-Espichel coast are protected by the Professor Luiz Saldanha Marine Park. This marine protected area was created in 1998 to protect and recover the biodiversity of this special sea, by promoting conservation actions and managing the different human activities practiced in these waters. This way, the Marine Park works towards making conservation goals compatible with sustainable human uses.
The entire area of ​​the Marine Park is part of the Arrábida Natural Park, which is managed by the Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas (ICNF) and is included in Rede Natura 2000 - the European network of conservation zones. The success of the Marine Park benefits from the collaboration of local communities, such as those seeking to adapt their activities linked to the sea (e.g.: fishing, diving, boat trips) to the capacity for recovery and conservation of marine ecosystems. At the same time, scientists support the Park by assessing the effectiveness of management measures (e.g.: monitoring studies), by deepening our knowledge on these marine ecosystems, by implementing conservation action and promoting engagement actions targeting local communities and visitors.

Why protect these waters?

The Arrábida coast needs the protection that the Marine Park offers because of the pressure exerted by human activities such as fishing, recreational boating and the several tourist activities practiced in these waters. Over the years, some of these activities have caused impacts on the different habitats and species of the Marine Park, leading to their degradation.
An example of a strong impact is the loss of more than 10 hectares of seagrass meadows in the Portinho da Arrábida area, due to dredging for clams and boat anchoring. Seagrass maeadows are important habitats for many animals who used them for breeding, refuge and food. In addition, the disappearance of those meadows, which played an essential role in sediment retention, may have accelerated coastal erosion in Portinho da Arrábida, leading to the disappearance of part of the beaches.
The Marine Park makes the economic activities compatible with conservation objectives, ensuring the conservation of species and habitats as well as the sustainability and promotion of economic activities that are developed here.

Origin of the Marine Park name

Luiz Saldanha (1937-1997) marked the advance of marine sciences starting in the 1970’s. His work has increased our knowledge about the ecology of Portuguese coastal ecosystems. As a Professor at the Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, he was responsible for the consolidation of Marine Biology as a scientific discipline in Portugal, having trained a whole generation of scientists in this field. A diving enthusiast, his PhD work was developed in the Arrábida coast, with which he developed a strong connection. He was amongst those who first warned of the need to create a marine reserve to protect this special coast. In 1998, the Marine Park was created as part of the Arrábida Natural Park and it was named after Professor Luiz Saldanha.

  • Alert for the conservation of Serra da Arrábida - The imminent destruction of Mata do Solitário generates a cry for help by the poet Sebastião da Gama. The request is answered by Professor Carlos Manuel Baeta Neves who in the following year founds the League for the Protection of Nature (LPN) and prevents the loss of this natural heritage.

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  • Valorization of the coastal zone - in a publication by LPN (A Serra da Arrábida and Nature Protection), Francisco Prudêncio Palminha warns of marine conservation with the essay "The Seaweed of the Arrábida Coastal Zone and its Protection (contribution to an algological study)".

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  • Alert for marine conservation - the Portuguese Center for Underwater Activities proposes and defends the creation of underwater parks in Arrábida and Berlengas.

  • Arrábida Reserve - The first preventive measures for the protection of the Arrábida region are established with the creation of the Arrábida Reserve (D355 / 71) by Direção Geral dos Serviços Florestais e Aquícolas; first alerts for the creation of a marine reserve in the region.

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  • Arrábida Natural Park - recognizing the insufficient existing protection, the Arrábida Natural Park is created. The approved legislation includes the Pedra da Anicha zoological reserve and warns of the need for enlargement to the sea.

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  • Marine conservation in debate - LPN organizes a debate on the Conservation of the Coast of Arrábida-Espichel, in collaboration with the Municipality of Sesimbra. At the time, Professor Luiz Saldanha was the President of the League for the Protection of Nature.

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  • Oceanographic Museum - at the Santa Maria Fort, in Portinho da Arrábida, the Oceanographic Museum is inaugurated, supervised and managed by the Arrábida Natural Park.

  • Preparatory studies (1996-2000) - Research projects: “Socio-economic survey of activities dependent on the marine environment of the Arrábida-Espichel coast”, which took place between 1996 and 1998; “Inventory and ecology of the ichthyofauna of the rocky substrate of the Arrábida coast Espichel ”between 1996 and 2000. Both funded by the Nature Conservation Institute.

  • Natura 2000 Network - the Arrábida Natural Park is inserted in the Natura 2000 Network (RCM142/97), integrating the national list of sites with community importance.

  • Professor Luiz Saldanha Marine Park - the Arrábida Natural Park extends to the sea with the creation of the Marine Park.

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  • Characterization of the Marine Park - the work on “Inventorying and Ecology of the Ictiofauna of the Rocky Substrate of Costa Arrábida / Espichel” is concluded, essential for the ordering of the Park.

  • Enlargement - the Arrábida Natural Park is extended to Cabo Espichel.

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  • Zoning Plan for the Arrábida Natural Park - with the approval of the Zoning Plan, the implementation of the Marine Park is carried out with zoning and regulation of activities.

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  • Natura 2000 Network - the marine area of ​​Arrábida-Espichel is included in the list of sites of community importance in the Natura 2000 network.

  • Start of the BIOMARES program (LIFE-BIOMARES) - Start of the BIOMARES program, a series of projects dedicated to monitoring, conservation and environmental awareness about the Marine Park. In this context, between 2007 and 2009, the LIFE-BIOMARES project takes place.

  • Implementation of the Zoning Plan - the phased implementation of the Zoning Plan is concluded.

  • Biodiversity registration - In the International Year of Biodiversity, 200 new species registered in the Marine Park are released, a contribution to the UNESCO objective "CountDown 2010" to stop the loss of biodiversity.

  • BIOMARES Program (Poslife) - continuation of the monitoring carried out in this program through the Poslife project, which takes place in 2011.

  • BIOMARES Program (BIOMARES 2.0) - The conservation, monitoring and characterization activities of the marine park continue with the BIOMARES 2.0 project, taking place between 2013 and 2015.

  • BIOMARES Assessment - the BIOMARES program publishes a global assessment of the recovery of the marine area of ​​the Park.

  • Revision of the Zoning Plan - the review of the Zoning Plan for the Arrábida Natural Park begins.

  • Excellens Mare Award - the Marine Park Luiz Saldanha receives the Natura Mare award from the Excellens MARE Awards.

  • BIOMARES Program (Inforbiomares) - between 2017 and 2020, the conservation, monitoring and characterization activities of the marine park are ensured through the INFORBIOMARES project.