Scroll for more


236 440 residents

INE, 2021

Scroll for more


The Azores archipelago constitutes an Autonomous Region of the Portuguese Republic located in the mid-North Atlantic Ocean. The archipelago is composed of nine volcanic islands and several coastal and oceanic islets, totalling an emerged area of approximately 2 344 km2, with a coastline spanning for about 1 020 km.

The archipelago constitutes the westernmost point of Europe and the most isolated group of islands in the North Atlantic, approximately 1 949 km from the east coast of North America and 1 380 km from the west coast of mainland Portugal. The Azores archipelago is oriented in a northwest–southeast direction, in consonance with the main tectonic features that influence the geodynamics of the region, extending for approximately 600 km.

The nine islands are organized into three groups according to their geographical proximity: the Eastern Group (Santa Maria and São Miguel islands, including the Formigas islets); the Central Group (Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial islands) and the Western Group (Flores and Corvo islands).

The seafloor surrounding the islands is characterized by a rich and diverse topography comprising the island slopes, numerous seamounts, deep fracture zones, trenches, abyssal plains and a considerable extension of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This renders a wide diversity of coastal, oceanic and deep-sea habitats, hosting an array of species and supporting varied ecosystems such as hydrothermal vent fields, coldwater coral reefs and gardens and sponge aggregations.

The vast maritime space surrounding the Azores archipelago, corresponding to a total area of almost 1 million km2, holds a multiplicity of natural resources and has increasingly been viewed as a strategic vector, where blue economy plays an important role in the socio-economic development of the region. In addition to more traditional maritime sectors, such as fisheries, ports and shipping, including passenger and cargo maritime transport, activities related to scientific research, as well as coastal and maritime tourism and recreation, with emblematic examples such as whale watching, diving and nautical sports, also represent a considerable portion of blue economy in the Azores.

Scroll for more

Maritime Areas

The maritime zones surrounding the Azores archipelago, which comprise the internal maritime waters, the territorial sea, the Azores sub-area of the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf until 200 nautical miles from the coast, correspond collectively to a total maritime space under national sovereignty and/or jurisdiction of about 960 432 km2. Located within the Macaronesian Subregion, this vast maritime space is characterized by a wide range of habitats and ecosystems, such as coastal habitats, offshore seamounts and hydrothermal vents, harbouring a wealth of marine resources and hosting a number of key human uses and activities.

Scroll for more

MSP regional competent authorities

Regional Directorate for Maritime Policies (DRPM; SRMP/GRA)

MSP national competent authorities

Direção-Geral de Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Marítimos

Direção-Geral de Política do Mar

Scroll for more

Status of MSP process


Pre-planning stage took place in 2018 and 2019, supported by the MarSP project and entailed organizing the MSP process, including defining the vision and regional objectives, drawing scenarios for MSP, addressing the related legal framework, planning stakeholder participation, analysing existing and future conditions, diagnosing interactions between uses, the environment and land, as well as filling knowledge gaps.


Planning stage took place in 2020 and 2021, with the development of PSOEMA (Vol. I and II (Addenda), Vol. III-A and IV-A) in 2020 and its submission to the Working Groups to gather contributions from relevant stakeholders, resulting in the revision and improvement of the plan and its cartography in 2021. The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process took place simultaneously, resulting in the Environmental Report (Vol. V) that included inputs from previous consultation to entities with specific environmental responsibilities.


The approval stage is the current phase of the MSP process in the Azores, following the legal procedure for the approval of the Situation Plan (PSOEMA), consisting of the submission to the Consultative Committee (formal constitution presently ongoing), that will be followed by a period of Public Consultation.


Once adopted, the plan will be implemented in the region by the competent authority according to its objectives and principles, which will simplify the attribution of titles of private use of the maritime space (TUPEM) concerning uses and activities predicted in the plan.


Pursuant to Decree-Law No. 38/2015, the plan may be subject to revision five years after entry into force, except in case of changes to environmental conditions or in compliance with EU rules. The revision implies a general reappraisal of the plan’s components, which may take place as a response to the evolution of economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions or in case of suspension of the plan.

Scroll for more