Save The Waves Coalition

Jardim do Mar, Part 2?

Seawall and road proposed for the surf spot at Paul do Mar.


Thanks to information provided by STW Advisor Nelio de Sousa

Save The Waves has received information that the Madeiran Government has made the decision to move forward with the construction of a seawall on the shoreline in Paul do Mar, at the location of one of the best waves on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

The project includes the construction of a road and expansion of a seawall in Paul do Mar along 500 meters of the shoreline. The road will be on a platform built on the ocean along the shoreline. The objective of the project, according to the local newspaper Diário (8.13.2011), is the protection of the residences of ninety families living in the area from sea advancement.

As illustrated in the project diagrams, the new road and seawall (green), extends much further seaward and west than the existing seawall (red/pink color), passing a graveyard. This expansion endangers the surf spot in front of the graveyard, as the seawall will be built exactly where the surf break is located.

The wave in Paul do Mar is very much appreciated for its frequency, regularity, and ease of access, and it offers intense and extreme surfing experiences. It is often the venue for surf competitions. The destruction of this wave would be a tremendous loss for surf, tourism, and natural heritage of the island.

How can local authorities use images of surfing to promote Madeira as a tourism destination, support surf competitions at Paul do Mar, and at the same time propose a project to destroy the natural conditions that make surfing possible? 

The construction project has the price tag of 7 Million Euros of public money, according to the local newspaper Diário (8.20.2011). It is being funded by the European Union, with an expected contribution from the Madeiran government for a percentage of the sum. 

“It sounds like Jardim do Mar promenade and seawall, part 2,” says STW Advisor Nelio de Sousa.

Indeed, here we have all the same dangerous ingredients as with the Jardim do Mar tragedy: one the island’s epic waves at stake, EU funding for public infrastructure, and a seawall proposal. Click here to learn more about the seawall that was built at Jardim do Mar.

The outcome can be different this time though. Madeira can learn from past mistakes and make the choice to safeguard its coastal heritage, its ecological assets, and the island’s economic wellbeing through tourism. The choice is obvious: the wave at Paul do Mar must be protected, period.

Local surfers are beginning to organize a campaign against this project. Visit the facebook page Save Wave Paul Do Mar and join the group for more information.