The battle against the sea - Coastal erosion in Portugal | DW Documentary

Channel 6, Documentary Jason Clay 18 May 2022

Coastal erosion is becoming an increasing problem for Portugal’s Atlantic coast. Each winter brings heavier storms, and the rising sea level is endangering homes and beach promenades. How are local residents and authorities coping with the situation?

The pressure on Portugal’s west coast is mounting by the year. In the north in particular, many Portuguese are fighting a desperate battle against the advancing sea, which is threatening beaches and coastal resorts. Every year, environmental authorities have to concede coastal homes to the ocean and resettle their inhabitants. The report shows how people in Portugal are battling rising sea levels and coastal erosion. Locals such as fisherman Vítor Cacheira, who can no longer make a living from coastal fishing. He now works as a town councilor in Esmoriz, promoting a resettlement program which provides affected families with secure housing.

At the beach in Furadouro, surfing instructor and nature guide João Paulo sees his livelihood at stake. Restaurant owner Abel Vieira from the fishing village of Apúlia fears that his centuries-old village could soon be swept away by the sea. In recent years, many houses directly on the beach have literally fallen into the sea. Abel Vieira’s restaurant, one of many directly behind the dunes, is in danger, and many jobs with it.

The central government says that it is aware of the issue. They are trying to solve the problem by pouring in millions of cubic meters of sand or erecting protective barriers. But it is a Sisyphean task. The EU has declared the fight against coastal erosion a priority and is offering financial support to the Portuguese authorities.

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