Marine research, resources and conservation in the Azores



  • 1A history of marine research on the Azores is outlined. Until two decades ago most oceanic and littoral marine studies had been carried out by foreign scientists. Studies by Azorean scientists started to increase in the early 1980s when the University of the Azores was created.
  • 2Ocean circulation in this part of the Atlantic is described as a background for biogeography and diversity. The picture emerges that Azores is a ‚meeting point’ for shallow water marine fauna and flora of different origins.
  • 3The species composition of one of the best studied groups of organisms, the fish, is compared between locations in the northeastern Atlantic. The work on fish is also compared with other well studied groups (algae and hydroids) to highlight the interest of the Azores as a natural biogeographical experiment.
  • 4Studies of marine resources began less than two decades ago. The development of demersal fisheries is described focusing on the switch from small-scale artisanal fishing to more commercial fisheries.
  • 5Conservation of species and legislation in force for molluscs, crustaceans, fishes, marine turtles, seabirds and marine mammals are summarized.
  • 6Protected marine areas already designated are defined, as well as new areas recommended.
  • 7The paper concludes with a discussion of current threats and future management strategies.