Anthony Martin | Santa Pola (Alicante) (EFE) promoted by the Ecoalf and Ecoembes foundations, which in 2021 removed 81.5 tons of polluting waste from the Valencian coast.
The fishing boats that participate altruistically in the Valencian territory are almost all trawlers from the brotherhoods of Santa Pola, Dénia, Jávea, Torrevieja, Villajoyosa, Calp and Altea (Alicante), Gandía, Cullera and València (Valencia) and Vinaroz, Benicarló, Peñíscola, Grao de Castellón and Burriana (Castellón), with a crew of 909 fishermen.
The vast majority of the waste they remove and which is later converted into useful raw material for other sectors is plastic, although there is also metal from cans and other types of garbage, which get caught in the trawl nets and end up on the ship.
Do not return plastics to the sea but store them on board
Through the ‘Upcycling the Oceans’ project, fishermen no longer throw this polluting waste back into the sea, but instead store it in on-board containers provided by Ecoalf and Ecoembres to later deposit it in a clean point in port before it is shipped. recycling.
This project extends to the entire national territory because brotherhoods from Galicia, Andalusia, the Region of Murcia and Catalonia participate, which, together with the Community, allowed in 2021 to collect 190 tons of garbage by 573 boats, which means that more than a third of the waste left the Valencian coast.
Ángel Piedecausa is the skipper of one of these boats, the ‘José Ayza Albiol’ from Santa Pola, and in statements to EFE he has reported that his boat is 18 meters long and that he works between 3 and 5 miles from the coast in search of of hake, red mullet, octopus, cuttlefish and rock fish, and that it is “rare” on the day of work that at least between 3 and 4 kilograms of waste from the sea are not collected, almost all of it medium or large plastic already that microplastics do not remain in the networks.
“We catch everything in the sea”
“We take everything. From the most common, which is plastic, to steel and metal from cans and sometimes even televisions, bicycles and a washing machine among countless things, especially after a storm or torrential rains, which is when the rivers and boulevards throw a lot of water to the sea,” he said.
According to this experienced patron, “many people would surely be surprised by the amount of plastics and microplastics in the seas”, also mainly in the summer season, which is “when there is more garbage” in the sea.
Piedecausa has maintained that for some years now among fishermen there has been a growing awareness of the need to clean the seas and that this greater concern has led to a change in old habits, such as keeping garbage on the boat that gets entangled in the nets to deposit them once back to the port, instead of the traditional throwing them into the water.
“This simple gesture enriches us because we are increasingly aware of everything we can help”, the Santapolero boss assured before continuing that the fishermen are comforted by knowing that the garbage they throw into the recycling container helps to “maintain I clean the ocean and the sea” and end up becoming a thread or aluminum.
He stressed that “the sea is our resource and we are the first to keep the water clean” and continued that “in the fishing sector there is an evolution when we realize that we are the first to have clean oceans with our grain of sand.”