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Mr Vasco Alves Cordeiro,
It is with grave concerns that we, the national and international signatories of this open letter addressed to you, the President of the Local Government of the Azores, would like to address a distressing development in the Azores and in their territorial waters (EEZ, Exclusive Economic Zone). In the Atlantic ecosystem the Azores play an existential role for nature and all living creatures, both above and below the water. The preservation of this unique and essential ecosystem is crucial for human survival. Conversely, the destruction of this system can have far-reaching consequences, not only for the Azores, but for all of humanity. With regard to future generations and with regard to the transgenerational, sustainable treatment of nature in the Azores, we call upon you to fundamentally change your policy on environmental and marine protection.
For many years, both the local government and the individual administrations of the nine islands have, in cooperation with experts, established marine protection areas and nature reserves in the sea both around the Azores and also directly on the islands – but, unfortunately, only on paper. Nature reserves around the Azores have been legally recognised as of 08 July, 2008. What, however, is the use of establishing marine protection areas when the same laws exclude pelagic species such as sharks, swordfish and tuna from protection, or if illegal fishing is not stopped in practice, and if marine protection areas are not respected but, despite many indications and requests for change, are still exploited by fishing?
The same applies to the waters of the 200-mile zone, the EEZ of the Azores, in which both domestic and foreign fishing fleets are ruthlessly exploiting the stocks of large fish such as sharks, swordfish, blue and white marlin and tuna. Drastic changes must be made if we are to secure not only the future of the ocean and its inhabitants, but also subsequent generations of humankind.
In this open letter we have listed seven areas, supported by examples which, among other things, bring to light how the seas surrounding the Azores are being exploited, up until now with the knowledge and consent of the local government.
We ask you, Mr Vasco Alves Cordeiro, to address these exact points and to make lasting changes for the future.
on 02 Sep 2019