Organizations and companies hold waste collection contests in the seas, for which they offer various rewards
Can you imagine going to the sea and fishing for garbage? This is an initiative that environmental organizations are taking seriously, as there is more and more garbage in our seas. According to Greenpeace, each year more than 13 million tons of plastics are released into the ocean, so it is estimated that by 2030 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea and that approximately 99 percent of seabirds will have ingested this material.
The problem becomes more serious if one takes into account that the harmful effects of all the pollutants that are in the sea increase the degradation of habitats and, therefore, the mortality of marine species. However, they also have social and economic repercussions on the entire coastal community that depends on the sea, tourism, and fishing.
But the matter does not stop there. Of marine debris, microplastics emerge that the joining feeding some fish species are transferred to humans to the those consuming animal, which has raised an alert to health because marine resources function as a vital source of food for people.
There are two ways microplastics are made: either they are made, like microfibers in clothing, or they are created when waves and sunlight break larger pieces of plastic.
For this reason, the FAO Fisheries Industry official, Petri Suuronen, warned that these microplastics “carry toxic pollutants and represent a real risk to food safety and human health if they enter the food chain through the fish we eat. ”.
Fishing for plastics?
For this reason, many organizations have taken plastic fishing as one of their main actions, which is usually promoted through tournaments or contests between teams made up of volunteers, where a reward is offered to those who remove the most kilos of garbage from the sea. .
An example of the above was given by Grupo Modelo, which on June 12 held the National Plastic Fishing Championship, which was held in the fishing community of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, where with the participation of around 30 boats on the coasts, it was possible to collect two thousand 904 kilos of plastic in just four hours.
According to the company, this contest was held in La Puntilla, Mazatlán, a beach that has been characterized by having a problem of accumulation of plastics.
Who won the jackpot was the boat “Alejandro”, which managed to remove 319 kilograms of garbage from the sea and took home 15 thousand pesos as a prize for its great effort.
Second place went to a boat that received the name “Melisa” and that managed to remove 212 kilograms of garbage from the sea, for which it won a prize of 10,000 pesos. Likewise, the third place went to the boat “Moana Tequila”, with a reward of five thousand pesos for removing 200 kilograms of garbage from the sea.
The actions that this group promoted during that contest did not stop there. One of the main objectives of the event was that there will be a connection between fishermen with local collection centers so that, from that moment, on each of their fishing days they also collect the plastic they take from the sea and can give it in exchange for an extra-economic income.
For this reason, the championship not only sought to clean the coastal area a bit but also decided to promote the model of a circular economy at the local level and sow in the fishing industry or at least in the fishermen, awareness about the pollution of the oceans.
Through the dissemination of social networks, the response of Internet users was so good that there were even some proposals that the Plastic Fishing Championship spread throughout the country.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons to seek care between oceans and seas is that these spaces are capable of regulating the planet’s climate and also constitute an important source of nutrition.
In the same way, within the seas, there are also ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrasses, and marshes that are considered blue carbon ecosystems, which provide protection of the coasts, the purification of water, the sustenance of fisheries, the conservation of biodiversity and carbon sequestration. The deterioration of these spaces would not only reduce their capacity to capture carbon, but would also produce emissions into the atmosphere of the carbon already stored.
But the plastic fishing powers are not exclusive to Grupo Modelo. There are several environmental organizations that usually hold such contests, such is the case of the Local Plastic Fishing Tournament, which was held on July 3 in the bays of Huatulco. The dynamic was traveling through the waters as a couple or individually in a kayak.
During the tournament, according to the regional delegate of the Oaxaca Tourism Secretariat, Raúl Sinobas, 116 competitors participated in the contest, who toured nine beaches that make up the natural complex of the Huatulco bays and collected all the garbage that arrives through the marine currents among which multiple bottles of pet from Guatemala were found.
The recovered waste made up a total of 1.5 tons of garbage and plastic in the coastal zone of the state.
Among some of the prizes that were promoted by service providers of tourist places such as hotels and restaurants, there were buffet food and one day and one night in one of the hotels in the area.
Therefore, the official assured that this event will be held every year at the beginning of the holiday season, due to the impact and response it had in its first edition, and assured that other states will join this ecological activity to carry out a mega cleaning in the seas. of all tourist destinations in the country in 2022.
“This action has no equal because it promotes an environmental culture of society, in addition to helping to keep the beaches clean of garbage,” said Sinobas Solís.
In a count of the first Local Plastic Fishing Tournament in Huatulco, the organizers indicated that, of the total collection, which was 7,783 pieces, 50.3 percent of them are recyclable, 0.7 percent are organic waste, 47.1 percent inorganic waste and 1.9 percent are infectious and dangerous biological sanitary waste.
Of the latter, syringes, needles, diapers, toilet paper, condoms, towels, agrochemical cans, batteries, Styrofoam, fiberglass and face masks were found.
Among the organic waste were dead animals, coconuts, and food waste.
While in the recyclable waste they found plastic bottles, glass bottles, cardboard, bottle caps, Tetrapak containers, aluminum cans, iron cans, tires, metals, paper, and screw caps.
Likewise, in the inorganic waste, which was a total of 3,666 pieces, personal accessories, soft plastic, glass pieces, cigarette butts, disposables, cookie and potato wrappers, hard plastics, straws, fishing nets and hooks, scraps of aluminum foil, clothing or fabric, shoes, flip flops, tennis, among others.
The action doesn’t stop there
However, actions to stop or lessen the impact of garbage in the sea depend not only on fishing for plastics but also on individual and collective actions by society, as well as by industries and governments that focus. in reducing the consumption of single-use plastics and preventing these plastics from ending up as waste in the seas and oceans.
According to the UN, in 1950 the world population, which consisted of 2.5 billion inhabitants, produced 1.5 million tons of plastic, while in 2016 the estimated population of 17 billion people produced 300 million tons of plastic waste, which evidently had serious consequences for plants, animals and marine ecosystems.
The increase in the consumption of plastic, together with the insufficient actions, result in a planet that is less and less habitable for the new generations, who will be forced to take drastic actions.
Such is the case of Nina Gomes, a girl of only four years old who with pink sunglasses leaves her father’s hand to collect garbage from the water along the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, according to the agency. of Reuters news.
“She is already a mini defender of the ocean,” says her father, who embarks with his little girl on a paddleboard and heads towards the polluted waters of Rio’s Guanabara Bay. When we arrive at the place it is time for work, so Nina and her father begin to take plastic bottles and bags and place them in a mesh net.
Nina is very clear about the reason why she goes into the sea to collect garbage: “because (otherwise) the fish and turtles die,” she says.
Nina’s father was inspired by her birth to found the Instituto Mar Urbano, a group dedicated to fighting marine disasters.
In addition, by instilling such work in his daughter, Gomes hopes to inspire love and empathy in other people and thus make it possible to break the apathy of the population surrounding environmental protection in Brazil.
“Children who are raised only in concrete will not become defenders of nature, of the ocean,” said Gomes.
The pollution of the sea not only happens locally, due to its great and eternal waves, but plastic garbage also travels for kilometers to reach other countries. In 2020 Greenpeace published a report called Impact of Plastic Pollution in Protected Mexican Natural Areas where scientific evidence was found that plastic garbage reached ecosystems and strategic and vulnerable scenarios in the country.
The organization assured that these wastes, which kill millions of marine animals, come from 12 countries on different continents.
The research focused on evaluating eight Protected Natural Areas of the Mexican Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, where more than 815 plastic pieces were collected, of which 29 pieces were clearly identified. Of these, seven came from Mexico, seven from the United States, four from the Dominican Republic, two from Colombia, and one piece from Ecuador, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, France, Italy, Singapore, and Turkey, respectively.
For the rest of the pieces, it was not possible to obtain information to help define their origin.
In this way, the study showed that plastic pollution in the sea has local, regional and global scope, so that marine ecosystems around the world are in danger and made an emphasis on the Mexican oceans, which are characterized for being the refuge of hundreds of fish thanks to its marine biodiversity, among which we can find turtles, whales, fish and bacteria.