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Open Access Review

Artisanal salt production in Aveiro/Portugal - an ecofriendly process

Carolina M Rodrigues1*, Ana Bio1, Francisco Amat2 and Natividade Vieira13

Author Affiliations

1 CIMAR/CIIMAR - Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto, Portugal, Rua dos Bragas, 289, 4050-123 Porto, Portugal

2 Instituto de Acuicultura de Torre de la Sal (IATS - CSIC), 12595 Ribera de Cabanes (Castellón), Spain

3 Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto, Portugal. Rua do Campo Alegre s/n, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal

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Saline Systems 2011, 7:3  doi:10.1186/1746-1448-7-3

Published: 4 November 2011

Abstract

Solar salinas are man-made systems exploited for the extraction of salt, by solar and wind evaporation of seawater. Salt production achieved by traditional methods is associated with landscapes and environmental and patrimonial values generated throughout history. Since the mid-twentieth century, this activity has been facing a marked decline in Portugal, with most salinas either abandoned or subjected to destruction, making it necessary to find a strategy to reverse this trend.

It is, however, possible to generate revenue from salinas at several levels, not merely in terms of good quality salt production, but also by obtaining other products that can be commercialized, or by exploring their potential for tourism, and as research facilities, among others. Furthermore, with an adequate management, biodiversity can be restored to abandoned salinas, which constitute important feeding and breeding grounds for resident and migratory aquatic birds, many of which are protected by European Community Directives.

The aims of this manuscript are to present a brief overview on the current state of sea salt exploitation in Portugal and to stress the importance of recovering these salinas for the conservation of this particular environment, for the regional economy, the scientific community and the general public. The Aveiro salina complex is presented in detail, to exemplify salina structure and functioning, as well as current problems and potential solutions for artisanal salinas.

Keywords:
Salt production; Salinas; Coastal wetlands; Biodiversity; Ecosystems; Aveiro; Portugal