Project META has been designed to contribute to a high number of targets of both the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) Goal 14 initiative. Considering the urgency of reaching a Good Environmental Status (GES) and the gaps still existing on basic knowledge of the descriptors, this project will fulfil a large number of those needs. International policies have been ratified by Portugal concerning the monitoring and conservation of the marine environment.



In Madeira, a carrying capacity of WW boats was suggested based on the number of cetacean groups available in the area south of Funchal and the time each boat can legally stay with them (Freitas et al. 2014). This will be repeated, observers will be searching for cetaceans from 2 land stations, estimating the number of cetacean groups available and the number of WW boats approaching them.

In Algarve, as a starting point, historical data of licensed whale watching operators on departing harbours, number of registered boats, seasonality of operation and species observed will be compiled from the Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas (ICNF) records. Alongside, the activity economic impact will be estimated in the region. Visits to the 3 harbours/areas of the Algarve will be made in order to identify cliff vantage points with potential to be used in the future as land stations. A framework to establish the carrying capacity will be developed.

A protocol to collect opportunistic data onboard WW platforms in mainland Portugal will be developed.

In Madeira, the number of registered boats for WW activity will be counted along with their passenger capacity, estimated number of trips per day, mean number of passengers per day, estimated number of days at sea per year and the price of the ticket. The total economic impact of the activity can then be estimated.


MSFD aims to conserve and sustainably use marine environment and resources for sustainable development. Again, several targets were presented in order to attain this main objective in the ‘Programa de Monitorização e Programa de Medidas da Directiva Quadro Estratégia Marinha’, based on the descriptors of GES and their indicators. We have identified the targets, which are related to the proposed project, and its results will contribute to achieve those targets:

 UN Goal 14

The Goal 14 “Life Below water” of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UN is of special interest. Different targets were defined to attain this agenda, and we have identified those related to the proposed project:

  • 14.1 By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution. Indicator: 14.1.1 Index of coastal eutrophication and floating plastic debris density
  • 14.2 By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans.