In a statement, the DGRM said that, through a resolution of the council of ministers on 27 January, it was authorised "to contract multi-annual maintenance work for the three-year period 2022-2024" at these fishing ports in the central region, worth four million euros.

"Included in this authorisation are the ports of Nazaré, São Martinho do Porto, Peniche and Ericeira, which will be able to see the National Dredging Plan properly applied, in order to maintain the service quotas in the different ports and good maritime safety conditions," DGRM explained.

A total of 4,052,900 euros (plus VAT) is expected to be paid out annually: 1,451,300 euros in 2022, 1,382,450 euros in 2023 and 1,219,150 euros in 2024.

According to DGRM, the multi-year maintenance dredging contract will allow it to make "more efficient management of dredging operations in access channels and within port infrastructures".

The aim is "to ensure navigability and maritime manoeuvres in the ports in question, always with the best safety conditions for vessels and their crews," it added.

The DGRM explained that "the dredged sediments will always be moved in conjunction with the Portuguese Environment Agency, in order to feed the adjacent beaches and combat coastal erosion.

The resolution of the council of ministers states that "carrying out maintenance dredging to ensure the navigability of fishing ports and recreational boating ports is of the utmost importance, given the special need to ensure the best conditions of access to these ports, safeguarding the safety of vessels, their crews and navigation in general.

"The need for efficient management of dredging in these areas makes the conclusion of multi-annual contracts urgent, so that dredging operations can be carried out in the most favourable periods or whenever there is a situation of silting that impairs access to a particular port, with risk to the safety of vessels and their crews," he justified.

In March, another resolution by the council of ministers had authorised spending on the contract works for maintenance dredging of fishing ports in the North, for the three-year period 2021-2023, up to an overall amount of 4,159,348 euros (plus VAT).