EDF begins project promoting rights-based fisheries in Portugal

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has partnered with the philanthropic organization Oceano Azul Foundation to improve the sustainability of small-scale artisanal fisheries in Portugal.

Oceano Azul’s president Jose Soares dos Santos announced the partnership in October at the Our Ocean Conference in Malta. 

“Economic and social sustainability depends more than ever on the sustainability of the marine environment,” dos Santos said in a statement, adding that there is little awareness of the seriousness of the ocean’s ecological crisis.

Oceano Azul committed to investing EUR 500,000 (USD 580,000) over the next five years to promote conservation initiatives in small-scale Portuguese fisheries. The partnership marks EDF’s first foray into fishery policy in Portugal, and expands the organization’s fishery work in Europe.

The groups will begin by launching a pilot project to implement community-led, science-based co-management of Portuguese coastal fisheries. They are currently looking for a location.

Portugal, a nation with more than 900 kilometers of coastline and two large island regions, has a long fishing history. Roman ruins of fish processing facilities have been found there, and the country has one of the largest exclusive economic zones in the European Union, at roughly 1.7 million square kilometers. It is among the highest consumers of fish per capita in the world. 

Both EDF and Oceano Azul “recognize the importance of social, economic and environmental sustainability delivered hand-in-hand, and the vital need for communities to have a voice in how fisheries are managed,” Jessica Landman, EDF’s senior director for oceans in Europe, said in a statement.

EDF has long worked with World Wildlife Foundation Spain on roughly half a dozen similar projects in fishing communities in Spain. Those communities have used methods developed by EDF’s Fishery Solution Center, such as ecosystem-based fishery management and secure fishing rights for fishermen that incentivize them to conserve.

“We know we have the right tools for the job – and we’re looking forward to applying and adapting what we’ve learnt in Spain with the team in Portugal,” Miguel Gomez, EDF’s acting Iberian Peninsula manager, said in a statement.

Oceano Azul is also working on a EUR 1 million (USD 1.16 million) project with the Waitt Foundation to develop a network of marine protected areas around the Azores.


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