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250 769 residents

DREM, 2021

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Madeira archipelago, which is integrated in the biogeographical sub-region of Macaronesia, has a total terrestrial area of approximately 796.8 km2 and is formed by the island of Madeira with 736 km2, the island of Porto Santo with 42.26 km2, located to the NE of the archipelago, and two other groups of uninhabited islands: the Natural Reserves of Desertas and Selvagens islands.

The Autonomous Region of Madeira has an historical relationship with the sea and unique natural conditions for the development of sea-related activities. The archipelago is characterized by narrow and steep insular platforms, presenting, in the southern area, a small slope that occurs until 100 m depth. The bathymetry presents a parallel distribution relative to the coastline, and the 100 m isobath does not distance itself more than 3 km from the coastline.

Madeira has a well-established tourism sector, a long tradition in the fisheries industry, and a growing and significant progress of aquaculture. These consolidated sectors, along with the vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ – 442 248 km2), and the privileged location at the the confluence of the main trade, recreational and tourism routes, grant a geo-centrality with high economic potential, and provide the conditions to face the challenges of the future, in which the realization of the potential of the sea may dictate the levels of economic development.

The population and economic activities are concentrated mainly along the coast, with the blue economy accounting for about 10.3% of the regional gross value added (GVA) for the years 2016-20172. The cluster of “Recreation, sports, culture and tourism”, accounted for more than three quarters (76.8%) of the “Sea” GVA, followed by clusters “Ports, transport and logistics” and “Fishing, aquaculture, processing and commercialization of its products”, with 10.3% and 9.0%, respectively. The region has also a strong growth potential regarding emerging sectors. Madeira has a small but rising biotechnology sector, it has an environment suitable for blue renewable energy, such as wave and wind energy, and it has a desalination unit in Porto Santo.

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Maritime Areas

The maritime area of the Autonomous Region of Madeira corresponds to an area of approximately 442 248 km2 (Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 203-A/2019 – Approval of the Situation Plan of the National Maritime Spatial Planning for the mainland, Madeira and Extended Continental Shelf subdivisions), about 500 times greater than the land area and comprises, in addition to the islands and islets, several seamounts (Seine, Lion, Unicorn, Dragon, Susana and Ampere) distributed mainly in the north-northeast direction.

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MSP regional competent authorities

Direção Regional do Mar (DRM; SRMar)

MSP national competent authorities

Direção-Geral de Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Marítimos (DGRM)

Direção-Geral de Política do Mar (DGPM)

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Status of MSP process


The work to develop the PSOEM started in 2016 with the establishment of the Consultative Commission7 and the identification of the 5 Working Groups. Stakeholders were also involved to identify and solve any existing conflicts in the maritime space. Most of the meetings were focused on the activity of surfing and the conflicts in specific maritime areas with specific sectors, such as aquaculture and energy.


The PSOEM was developed as an instrument that considered the ecological sustainability of the oceans, economic and social development, and the juridical consolidation and geopolitical affirmation of Madeira and Portugal in the Atlantic basin. The period of public discussion of the Situation Plan, corresponding to the Madeira subdivision, took place from May 16 to July 31, 20188.


The National Maritime Spatial Planning Situation Plan (PSOM) for the mainland, Madeira and Extended Continental Shelf subdivisions was approved by the end of 2019, through Council of Ministers Resolution 203-A/2019.


PSOEM implementation has pointed out the specificities of the maritime area of Madeira but also the importance of current and future activities and their impacts on the marine environment. Licencing procedures have become easier and faster as areas for current and futures uses have been already defined. PSOEM has also contributed for joint efforts between competent authorities to participate in applications to European projects to reinforce MSP process in the Macaronesia.


According to the legislation5, DRM will submit to DGRM, every three years, a report on the state of regional MSP, reflecting the balance of the implementation of PSOEM, as well as the levels of internal and external coordination obtained. The planned revision of the situation plan takes place five years after its entry into force, which in the case of Madeira will take place in 2024.

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