Cortegaça by the Sea

Life along an
eroding coast

Cortegaça is a coastal town just twenty-eight kilometers south of Porto. On an area of about nine square kilometers, it is home to a little less than 4.000 people. Life by the Sea can be a humbling experience and this is especially true for Portugal, where seventy-five percent of the population lives along its nine-hundred kilometer long Atlantic coastline. 

The Portuguese coastline is constantly changing — nestled into the municipality of Ovar, Cortegaça is increasingly suffering from coastal erosion. Caused by climate change, industrial activities and irrigation, human habitat continues to break away. The fishermen  were amongst the most affected – over the past twenty years, as the ocean pushed inland, they were forced to abandon their seaside homes and resettle elsewhere. By first claiming undeveloped space, these temporary ramshackle structures have since become permanent settlements. These so-called fisherman-hoods often have no  access to running water or electricity and serve as timely reminders that the effects of climate change are very much present – even in the heart of Europe.            

All images copyright of Guan Nan Li