“Our project was presented in August of 2017, it was the object of a first technical round in October of 2017, of a second round in February of this year, it is developing its steps and we are counting on its being approved early next decade,” the minister told Lusa in a break from a conference in Peniche, in the district of Leiria, to mark World Oceans Day.

The extension of the platform "will multiply Portuguese territory by several times” and bring major potential for the country's development, he said.

“We shall have access to resources in the deep seas and the sea bed that are very valuable for industry, for their use in the manufacture of medicines and other products," he explained. "Portugal will have more resources."

In turn, he added, the change will "increase our responsibility in terms of sovereignty and international security".

According to Santos Silva, the expansion will enable Portugal “to find the sea again” after years of failing to utilise its potential, but he argued that for this to happen “there is a need to act on all fronts" where action on the oceans is concerned.

With that in mind, he said, Portugal has to be a “leader in the management of the international agenda” for the sea, at a time when UN member states are debating the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

The targets of the Agenda include the reduction and prevention of maritime pollution and the protection and safeguarding of eco-systems - all by 2020.

For 2030 the Agenda sets the target of increasing the benefits for island states and less developed countries of exploitation of marine resources, improved scientific knowledge of the oceans to improve their state and biodiversity, and ensuring access for artisanal fishing and the conservation of fisheries.