Our local hero this week is Carlos from Per La Mar Viva, which was awarded a grant by Menorca Preservation, read what he has to say about his project and the issues he faces below:
Tell us about your project
PER LA MAR VIVA was born in 2017 as a result of seeing the human mistreatment towards our seas due to a general lack of awareness, especially in terms of plastic pollution. It was in response to the bad waste management in the Ciutadella harbour, my home city, where the nightlife filled the water with layers of plastics and bottles, and nothing was done to stop this. Also, in response to the negligence of a company hired to collect plastic waste by boat, theoretically managing all the plastic that reaches our coast by sea, and which were never collected or removed. It was due to all of the above that I decided to create Per la Mar Viva, with the aim of ensuring the good health of the sea and to defend it from any human action that could harm it.
Why do you do what you do?
Because no one had dared to do it before, because everyone saw the problem and complained about it, but no one committed or invested their time and energy in solving these issues. Human beings are capable of doing so much…, but it’s a shame to see that the general pattern is to complain and complain, but rarely to take action and make a real commitment. I am against human hypocrisy, and for me it was a personal commitment. It’s my city, it’s my island, it’s my sea, it’s my harbour and I don’t want to see what I see happening over and over again simply because of human apathy.
What more do you need to ensure your project continues to succeed?
What is the biggest challenge you face?
The biggest challenge I have faced has been to report the administration and management of my island. I have personally gotten to know the politicians within this department, and truly expected a different response when the shocking and negative finding were presented to them at the end of our studies. I was put in a position in which I had to go against the political decisions of the party which I had personally voted for, and of which I know the representatives very well. Having to publish this, almost as if it were a campaign against them, and knowing it may cause people to speak well or badly about me and my work, was a difficult decision. However, we were routing for the sea, not the interests of politicians, so unsurprisingly I felt the need to act in ways I didn’t expect would be necessary.
Throughout my journey with Per la Mar Viva, this has been huge factor which has slowed down the progress and decision making, and completely stopped me at times, in order to find the best and most fair way to move forward.
Can you give us a quote about your passion for your work?
My passion for the sea stems from experiencing it firsthand through spearfishing. As a child, I was very fortunate that my father, who comes from a family of fishermen, took me to the sea so much that when I really started to discover it the world underwater, I was hooked. I started fishing with goggles, a snorkel, fins and a bow made out of an umbrella pole. This passion to enter the sea and see the fish and underwater species, to fish and gather the whole family to eat the fish we caught, to progress and dive deeper and deeper to find new rocks, new habitats, bigger fish like the grouper, led me to do a lot of sport and lead a very healthy life. I was very close to my father who always came along with me; we lived very intense moments together as I was reaching a very high level of fishing. The fishing was totally selective, and respectful… on countless occasions I didn’t fire my speargun to enjoy the spectacle that the sea offered me… with time, I began to see that something wasn’t right, people’s egos spoiled everything. Colleagues who were sea poachers, sold their fish, fished at night, fished in the reserve… Large quantities of plastic were appearing in our sea, and that heaven I had so much loved and enjoyed was slowly breaking down.
I was aware that a lot of public money was being invested in protecting these areas, but it was of no use. Even with money, something wasn’t right. Fishing inspectors, police, port managers, bar owners, young people, politicians, the biosphere reserve, the blue flag in the port, the cleaning companies, agreements, and so on. They were all there to “protect”, but it was all just a story, because nothing was improving. So, I decided to take action. The sea is like our grandmother, the grandmother of grandmothers, the one who gave birth to life for the first time, I see the sea as a pure, fragile, wonderful state, and her children and grandchildren are the ones mistreating her with no way to take it back. The innocence of the sea is being abused, the sea is pure, the sea is a cradle that welcomes you, it is life, and this must be respected. Human beings are violating the sea, they are mistreating it, they are mistreating the mother of life on the planet, but she is wise, she does not defend herself, she receives, she is like a punching bag, and she will probably give us a lesson in life if we do not stop the ways in which we are mistreating her. PER LA MAR VIVA was born for her and we will continue to work hard for her.
Click here to see Carlos featured on our partner Naturisimo’s page about the heroes within our network.
This series is part of our partnership with Naturisimo, a green beauty and wellness brand who are helping to champion the incredible individuals we work with.