The Portuguese mainland is located at the Iberian Peninsula and marks the westernmost boundaries of continental Europe. The coastline of the Portuguese mainland spans across 943 kilometers, where you can currently visit 8 marine protected areas.

Due to its location and vast coastline, Portugal was the European capital of maritime exploration starting in the 15th century making it one of the most powerful nations worldwide. Today, there is still a lot to explore in the waters of Portugal.

Glorious sandy beaches and epic cliffs mark the coastline of Portugal. On the west coast the sea is cooler and has more of the typical Atlantic character compared to the south (the Algarve region), which is calmer and more influenced by the Mediterranean Sea.

The Portuguese economy is largely dependent on the ocean, with tourism being one of the country’s main industries and fishing having a high social and cultural importance. Portugal’s most famous fish (besides the imported cod) is the sardine (Clupea pilchardus), but other economically important species are the mackerel (for example Scomber japonicus), Atlantic Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), different types of breams and porgies (members of the Sparidae family), flatfishes such the sole (Solea vulgaris), just to name a few as this list could go on for several pages.

Fishing pressure can be high in many areas of continental Portugal, with some destructive fishing practices still occurring, especially bottom trawling. But most of Portuguese fleet is small scale coastal fisheries and, in many coastal and marine areas we can find a complex network of habitats and species. In order to protect these fragile ecosystems and guarantee a sustainable management of marine resources, several Marine Protected Areas were created on the Portuguese mainland. Which one would you like to visit?