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Local fishing boats collected 19 tonnes of rubbish from the sea in 2019

Fishermen sort the rubbish they have collected on their boat.
Fishermen sort the rubbish they have collected on their boat. / M. C:
  • A project cofinanced by The Coca Cola Foundation is working with the industry in Spain and Portugal to carry out vital environmental research

Fishermen, sailors and staff who work at Caleta de Vélez port have collected a total of 19 tonnes of rubbish from the sea bed this year, through a project cofinanced through the Coca Cola Foundation.

The project is being run thanks to collaboration with a number of environmental organisations and first started at Caleta port in 2018. Marbella joined the project in 2019.

In total there are 15 ports and 83 fishing boats across Spain and Portugal involved in the project.

The Vertideros Cero association is working closely with the fishing industry and a spokesperson from the environmental group said last week, "We believe it is fundamental to be able to work with the sector to achieve one of the most ambitious objectives of the project - to obtain data to investigate what type of rubbish is on the seabed and therefore be able to look for solutions to a big global problem."

Majority of rubbish is plastic

So far more than 5,000 volunteers across 170 organisations have participated in the project and a total of 584 tonnes of rubbish have been removed from the Mediterranean and Atlantic since it started in 2018.

Periodic analysis of the rubbish is carried out using an application designed by Marnoba. The information is sent to Spain's Ministry for the Environment as well as being uploaded onto the Marnoba and Mares Circulares websites - two of the participating environmental organisations.

Their research has revealed that 84 per cent of the rubbish collected by the fishing industry is plastic and five per cent is metal. Eighty per cent of the total comes from land.

"With this initiative we can show that the majority of the rubbish doesn't come from the fishing industry, but from land sources," said Mari Carmen Navas, who is in charge of the Caleta de Vélez fishing fleet.

"If we don't do it who is going to? Each boat brings back what it can," said José Muñoz, sailor of El Campanero - the boat which brought back the largest amount of rubbish to Caleta de Vélez port; 11 tonnes, in 2018.