Oceana commends Portuguese Government for proposing the Gorringe Bank as a Site of Community Interest in accordance with EU legislation. This unique spot includes two seamounts, Gettysburg and Ormonde, located 160 nautical miles off the southwestern Portuguese coast. They extend from depths of 28 m and 33 m below sea level to more than 5,000 m and their biodiversity is very rich. Oceana has identified and described more than 350 species in this zone during its expeditions using divers and submarine robots, in 2005, 2011 and 2012.
“It is very rewarding to finally hear the news that the Gorringe Bank will be protected”, said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “Oceana began working towards protecting these unique seamounts more than 10 years ago. The decision by Portugal encourages us to continue our investigations of the deep sea. The deep sea is still unknown and we will continue our research to help protect the most unique and valuable places”.
The Natura 2000 network sets out to protect the EU's most ecologically valuable areas. The inclusion of the Gorringe Bank in this international network of protected areas is due to the presence of habitats of community interest, including reefs and sandbanks, and species such as the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Thanks to the support of the Foundation for the Third Millennium, Oceana has recorded many other species in the zone, such as torpedos and fin whales, as well as deep-sea corals and sponges.
In addition, Oceana has documented a number of threats that are jeopardising the condition of these practically virgin ecosystems, such as the presence of rubbish and abandoned fishing equipment. These recordings demonstrate the immediate need to establish protective and management measures in the area, to avoid the degradation of some of Europe's most valuable seamounts. Once the European Commission formally accepts the SCI, Portugal will have six years to design these measures and to turn the Gorringe Bank into a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
NEW storymap: Gorringe Bank