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GLORES Partner Spotlight: Dr. Horta e Costa

This week, we are excited to shine the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES) Partner Spotlight on Dr. Barbara Horta e Costa, a member of our esteemed GLORES Science Council!

Dr. Barbara Horta e Costa is a marine researcher at the Center for Marine Sciences (CCMAR) at the University of Algarve in Portugal. She focuses on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and their effects on coastal communities and local users, like artisanal fishers. Dr. Horta e Costa’s research includes work on MPA effectiveness, connectivity, MPA networks, climate change, fisheries vulnerability, and fish assemblage resilience. She has experience with MPAs in Portugal, Cuba, the U.S., and Brazil, as well as regional and global MPA patterns.

Dr. Horta e Costa conducts surveys to assess fish assemblages and target invertebrates inside no-take areas. For an example of this work, see Horta e Costa et al. 2013. Photo: Vasco Ferreira / Biomares Project

Dr. Horta e Costa co-developed a Global Regulations-Based Classification System for MPAs (Horta e Costa et al. 2016), with an accompanying website for MPA practitioners, Their system is used in GLORES evaluations to help determine a nominee’s award level. Dr. Horta e Costa has also classified Portuguese MPAs under this system, working as a consultant for ANP/WWF PT and Fundação Oceano Azul.

Different classifications within the Regulation-Based Classification System for MPAs. Image:, based on Horta e Costa et al. 2016.

At the Fisheries, Biodiversity and Conservation group (CCMAR), Dr. Horta e Costa currently studies spawning aggregations and reserve effects in a Portuguese MPA through investigating local fishers’ perceptions and ecological surveys. She will soon start a collaborative project with participatory approaches to co-define conservation measures that can protect these vulnerable, important events.

A fishing boat at Arrabida Marine Park, Sesimbra, Portugal. Dr. Horta e Costa researches how artisinal fishermen adapt to MPAs (Horta e Costa et. al 2013). Photo: Vasco Abreu


We asked Dr. Horta e Costa why she joined the GLORES Science Council:

“I believe MPAs can and should work. Currently we are risking discrediting MPAs, by not including some requirements when designating them. Effectiveness is central and depends on a lot of factors or criteria. We need to understand what we are protecting and how. GLORES will tackle related issues and will hopefully contribute to more efficient MPAs. I’m proud to be part of this relevant and timely effort. Thanks for inviting me to this journey! I think it will not be easy or always immediately fruitful, but we need to re-think ocean conservation together and communicate it.”

The Rio Formosa Nature Reserve in Faro, Portugal, where Dr. Horta e Costa lives and works. Photo: Jorge Assis


To learn more about Dr. Horta e Costa’s work, please visit her CCMAR profileWatch this new video, courtesy of our friends at Shoots Media, to learn more about the 2017 GLORES award winners. 


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