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Marta Labastida

Mapping of maritime backyards in Póvoa de Varzim

José Pedro Fernandes

In the Portuguese context of maritime space planning and its recent process of territorialization, there is evidence of a system of "maritime backyards" related to fishing activity in the north coast with no map that record them. In fact, there are no maps of their location, identification, or size. These "maritime backyards" were configured to improve multi-purpose fishing productivity, becoming important spaces for the sustainability of natural resources due to their high concentration in biomass and ecosystem diversity. This work aims to map the "maritime backyards" and understand their morphology and their dynamics. The topics covered jump from biology, economics, ethnography, and oceanography, to architecture, by measuring and drawing these underwater spaces and decoding their relationship to the coast/territory including toponymy and their heritage references transmitted among fishermen. The research is based on gathering information through interviews, photos, written and graphic documentation from the, present (2019) and past fishing activity. This empirical approach, in situ, will be complemented by existing written references of the "maritime backyards" and fishing activity traditions The result will be a first cartography - or map that represents the location, dimensions and morphological characteristics of the "maritime backyards" by relating their space to the toponymy used by fishermen. Through interpretative drawings and schemes, the cartography will also cross-reference the spatial information with the different fishing methods and elements used. These mapping will be restricted to one case study: Póvoa de Varzim. A coastal city with a long traditional fishing activity and, within the Exclusive Economic Zone (E.E.Z.) Portuguese territory in the sub-area of the Continent, where is concentrated the largest number of "maritime backyards”. Over the last 60 years, fishing has changed its procedures because of the introduction of new electronic technologies such as GPS. However, the "maritime backyards" were created by the wisdom gained by experience and shared, secretly, from generation to generation among fishermen, ensuring their maintenance and one of the region's main economic sources. After the imposition of technology, the number of fishermen was reduced and the "maritime backyards" banalized and disputed by different fleets Nevertheless, the cultural significance of the toponymy of the "seas" is being lost. Mapping "maritime backyards" is required to make visible a broad cultural heritage based on a direct and transversal relationship between the ocean and the coast - sea and land - becoming a new information and production tool for the national maritime spatial planning (territory).