Miguel is a dive instructor and president of the Armação de Pêra's fishermen association, he sees the importance of protecting and preserving our oceans and works to instigate positive changes in his local coastline and community.
‘I’ve always felt a great passion and attraction to the sea.’ As dive instructor and president of the Armação de Pêra’s fishermen association, Miguel Rodrigues sees the importance of protecting and preserving our oceans. He works to instigate positive changes in his local coastline and community, and today Miguel shares his amazing story.
In this Ocean Witness video, Miguel shares his story about his community, the changes he has witnessed and the need to protect Armação de Pêra.
What is your earliest memory of the ocean?
I can’t pinpoint one exact memory. But since I can remember, I have always felt a great passion and attraction to the sea.
What does the ocean mean to you today?
As a dive instructor and president of the Fishermen Association, I get to be in this beautiful garden every day. For me it’s pure joy to have this job and I love that I have the privilege to be in direct contact with the sea this often. This reef is especially amazing to me. Apart from being Portugal’s largest natural reef, which is accessible to all, it is a magnificent garden full of life.
What changes have you witnessed in the ocean?
Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a decrease in the amount of fish over the last few years. A direct reason for that could be overfishing in the reef area. Another concern is the mass tourism we’ve been experiencing in our region. There are a lot of examples of areas around the world where that kind of mass tourism has gone wrong.
How do these changes affect you?
The sea is very important to me and these changes affect me directly. Here, in this small community, we all depend on the sea. Some people are more dependent on fishing, whereas others are connected to tourism, but all families directly depend on this bay. I feel that we must find a balance between tourism, fishing, the ocean and the beach. If we can’t find this balance, we will destroy this paradise.
‘I feel that we must find a balance between tourism, fishing, the ocean and the beach. If we can’t find this balance, we will destroy this paradise.’
And what do you do to contribute to shifting this change in a positive way?
As the president of the Armação de Pêra’s fishermen association, I try to have a positive influence every day. Right now, we have the opportunity to gather everyone around the table. We have the fishermen association, the council, the City Hall, the University of Algarve and the Oceano Azul Foundation. Together, we are working on a multiple use MPA that will protect the southern coast of the Algarve region. This makes me very optimistic, because I see a big opportunity to do a good job and maximize the preservation of this reef. And who knows, maybe my daughter can continue my adventure.
‘We have the fishermen association, the council, the City Hall, the University of Algarve and the Oceano Azul Foundation. Together, we are working on a multiple use MPA that will protect Armação de Pêra.’
Miguel Rodrigues is 41 years old. He lives in Portugal, in Armação de Pêra, a city in the Algarve. He is the president of the local fishermen association, as well as a dive instructor. Together with the fishermen association, the council, the City Hall, the University of Algarve and the Oceano Azul Foundation he works towards a better future for the ocean.
About Armação de Pêra
The bay of Armação de Pêra is part of Portugal’s largest coastal rocky reef. Therefore, the bay also benefits from particular oceanographic conditions that have made this area of unique ecological value in the larger context of this country’s coastline. As a result, the Armação de Pêra bay and surrounding zones are a part of one of the most biodiverse areas of central Algarve. Of the 1.294 species identified between Lagos and Faro, 889 species have been found within this zone. The Armação de Pêra is home to incredibly unique ecosystems: 12 species new to science, 45 new records of species for Portugal, over 15 species with conservation status, multiple habitats recognized to be areas of protection by international law, and a nursery for commercial species. But the biological richness of this region is also the cause of its exploitation, with the reef being the primary source of marine life in the Algarve and therefore a popular commercial fishing location. The effort to create this Marine Protected Area (MPA) has been unique in that it has been actively formed by community interest, through a bottom up process. Creating an MPA will promote nature conservancy and contribute to a healthy and productive ocean, as well as a sustainable future for the community of Armação de Pêra.