About this project

This project is a result of a Rapid Ocean Conservation (ROC) Grant funded by Waitt Foundation (www.waittfoundation.org) aimed at evaluating the performance of Portuguese marine protected areas.

Portugal is an important ocean country – the marine areas under Portuguese jurisdiction are the largest in European waters – and with this large area comes a great responsibility to protect and value marine species and habitats.

Marine Protected Areas, or MPAs, are places in the ocean designed to protect marine species and ecosystems, while sometimes allowing for sustainable uses of marine resources within their boundaries. An MPA can be 1) partially protected, where some uses are prohibited but some extractive activities are allowed and regulated, or 2) fully protected, where all extractive and destructive activities are forbidden, except as needed for scientific monitoring. Fully protected areas are also called no-take areas. A multiple-use area can combine partially and fully protected areas in different zones.

In Portugal, there are 71 MPAs, and many of them provide excellent opportunities for a wide range of recreational activities like bird watching, swimming, sailing, SCUBA diving and many others.

Navigate through this website to get a glimpse of the current status of MPAs in Portugal. The MPAs on the Portuguese mainland, and on the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores are full of big and small wonders of marine life just waiting to be explored. Who knows, maybe this website will inspire your next adventure?

About our aim

The aim of this website is to increase the awareness and literacy on marine protected areas centered on Portugal. This is part of a larger project titled ‘Performance of marine protected areas in Portugal – an ocean country’ that represented the first effort to evaluate the performance of Portuguese MPAs, made possible by a grant from the Waitt Foundation.

About us

Our lab is part of MARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre at ISPA – Instituto Universitário in Lisbon, Portugal. Our research is focused on understanding the impacts of human activities on marine communities and how marine protected areas can work as instruments promoting conservation of biodiversity and sustainable uses of the sea.
For further information about this project and the website please contact Emanuel Gonçalves (emanuel@ispa.pt) or Mirta Zupan (mirtazupan@gmail.com).

For detailed information about specific regulations of each MPA please follow this link (*coming soon).


The idea, content and writing was developed by Mirta Zupan and Anita Klaui.

The MPAs list, establishment years, zoning schemes and total and zone areas were obtained by Barbara Horta e Costa, Gustavo Franco and students from ISPA’s Masters Program – Marine Biology and Conservation (mainly Ricardo Furtado, Célia Mateus, Emília Cadeireiro).

The information about regulations (activities allowed) of each marine protected area (and zones) was collected by Barbara Horta e Costa (CCMAR) and Gustavo Franco.

This website contains information collated in the context of on-going research by the Marine Ecology and Conservation Lab at MARE – ISPA coordinated by Emanuel Gonçalves.

The illustrations were done by Tinka Leskovsek.

The web design was done by Ruben Fernandes and Bruno Fernandes.