Exclusive Economic Zone EEZ of Portugal

Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Portugal

The Exclusive Economic Zone – EEZ of Portugal is the 3rd largest in the European Union, the 5th largest in Europe and the 20th largest in the world. There is an interesting story about the Atlantic Islands and the influence of the Atlantic Islands including the Savage Islands that they have in the definition of the EEZ and which we will address here.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The extension of the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone

The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Portugal has an area of ​​1.727.408 Km2 and is therefore equivalent to about 18 times the total area of ​​the country.

It is the largest in the European Union and represents 11% of the EU EEZ.

This Exclusive Economic Zone was defined in 1997 and, in addition to the continental shelf of Portugal, includes the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores.

However, in 2009, Portugal intending to extend its exclusive economic zone, in order to also consider the Selvagens Islands, made this petition to the UN.

wild islands
wild islands

The area around Selvagens totals 2,15 million km2, thus increasing the EEZ to 3.877.408 km2.

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The protection and surveillance of the Portuguese EEZ

Surveillance of the Portuguese EEZ is carried out by the Portuguese Navy, Portuguese Air Force, the National Maritime Authority, the Maritime Police and the General Directorate of Natural Resources, Security and Maritime Services.

They are responsible for overseeing and controlling fishing, illicit activities, illegal immigration, detection of environmental problems, maritime traffic control, search and rescue operations, in addition to military tasks.

History of the Savage Islands

The Selvagens Islands are a SUB Archipelago of Madeira, north of the Canaries and are subordinate to the regional government of Madeira.

The discovery of the Selvagens Islands is attributed to the Portuguese discoverer Diogo Gomes who baptized them with this name, in the year 1438, however there are records that these islands were already known to the world.

Ilhas Selvagens belonged to the Caiados, a Madeiran family, before being sold to banker Rocha Machado in 1904.

Alexandre Zino, who wanted to protect the shearwaters that colonized the Selvagens Islands, tried to buy the Wild Islands, but in 1971 the Portuguese State bought them and established the first nature reserve in Portugal.

In the Selvagens Islands Natural Reserve there are four permanent inhabitants in Selvagem Grande and two in Selvagem Pequena who are guards of the Madeira Natural Park.

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They are regularly visited by biologists who investigate the existing fauna and flora.

The protected area of ​​Ilhas Selvagens is managed by the Instituto das Florestas and Conservação da Natureza (IFCN).

The Madeira Islands were discovered by the Portuguese between 1418 and 1419.

The Azores were discovered in 1427 by Diogo de Silves, who saw the islands of Santa Maria and São Miguel for the first time. Gonçalo Velho arrived at the Island of Santa Maria in 1431. From then on, the remaining islands were discovered.

Infante D. Henrique began the settlement of the Azores in 1439.

Dispute with Spain

The Spanish State has insisted that the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles) be done ignoring the Savages, considering them as rocks and not as Islands or continental platform as the Portuguese State classifies them, thus expanding the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ ) Portuguese.

They consider that “rocks that, by themselves, are not suitable for human habitation or economic life”, for this reason, should not have an exclusive economic zone or a continental shelf”.

Composition of the Portuguese EEZ
Composition of the Portuguese EEZ

In this context, the Spanish State asked the UN in 2014 for the sovereignty of a maritime area next to the Selvagens Islands. A disagreement similar to that of Olivenca.

Spain defends that the border of the EEZ should be further south between Spain and Portugal, equidistant between Madeira and the Canary Islands.

Over the years there have been some conflicts with Spanish boats illegally fishing in this area.

One of the Largest Protected Areas on the Planet

The colonization of the land was attempted throughout the XNUMXth century and ruins of walls are still visible on the Ilha Selvagem Grande.

There was also an attempt to introduce goats and rabbits, which ended up being devastating for the vegetation.

Selvagem Pequena and the remaining eight Ilhéus kept their vegetation intact because there was never any human presence or cattle.

Soon after the discovery, the Ilha Selvagem Grande was explored for its riches.

Natural plants used in dyeing and tanning were extracted, namely heather, pastel and sumac.

Other plants were also explored, such as Barrilha, used in the manufacture of soap.

These activities proved to be a good source of income for the time.

Fishing and salting of fish, as well as hunting shearwaters, were also of economic interest.

Over the centuries, the Selvagens Islands were considered private territory and, therefore, have changed owners. Possession by inheritance meant that the Selvagens Islands constantly changed hands.

The Selvagens Islands are now considered the most intact ecosystem in the Northeast Atlantic!

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