Bringing Green to the deep blue

The coastline is one of Spain ’s biggest attractions. It has to be one of the most beautiful and spectacular places on the planet I have been to. Where else can you identify three different countries (Spain, Gibraltar and Africa ) with one view? Where else can you see wild killer whales, tunas, dolphins and pilot whales on a regular basis? It’s a precious piece of nature that we should all be proud of. One of the key initiatives of Malaga ’s Green Party is in protecting the sea environment and its biodiversity.

However, it may be shocking and depressing to know that illegal, large-scale driftnet fishing operations are still used in several Mediterranean coastal areas, including the coast of and the Straits of Gibraltar. According to the WWF Mediterranean Programme’s environmental research, it is estimated that over 11,000 dolphins and 60,000 sharks are killed annually around the Straits of Gibraltar . Due to human impact and climate change, the quality and the biodiversity of our coastline is rapidly changing, unfortunately not for the better. I found it extremely challenging to find programmes or initiatives that address the issue of illegal fishing, because well, first, it’s not so well known among the public and second, it needs further investigation. However, I knew that as an individual, there is something that I could personally accomplish and that was to promote the coasts ecotours and activities. Ecotourism is defined as, “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” According to The International Ecotourism Society, “Ecotourism is about connecting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel.”   Simply Diving is a British-run diving centre, with a PADI 5 Star rating for all-round professionalism and high standards in training and dive services. Simply Diving is also an Official Partner of Project Aware – an initiative dedicated to the protection of the coast’s natural environment. Proceeds from every diver certified goes to Project Aware. (See: www.simplydiving.com)

By promoting such initiatives, the Coast’s natural habitats will be a feature of interest to more tourists and of course will bring more awareness to protecting the coastline. There are a few companies already specialising in eco-tourism:

Born to be Wild, a company specialised in adventures and ecotourism, which regularly hosts dolphin-watching trips off Estepona’s beaches. Two summers ago, my husband and I had the pleasure of operating our small motorboat, following our guide out to sea. We spotted a small pod of common dolphins and had a marvellous time watching them swim around us. (See: www.borntobewild.es)

The Swiss foundation FIRMM was established in 1998 to study and protect marine mammals (whales and dolphins) and their natural habitats. Last year, we had the opportunity to accompany FIRMM on one of their expeditions to view wild killer whales, who only surface in July. It was an amazing experience to watch mums and babies feeding near the fishing boats. It’s an experience that I will never forget. (See: www.firmm.org)

While it’s just a start, I believe that together we can not only enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us, but at the same time, make an impact in protecting our beloved Coast.

By Hersha Chellaram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s more impressive is that the Marine Environment Research Centre from the University of Genova estimates that over 8500 species of macroscopic organisms live in the Mediterranean Sea . Considering that the Mediterranean Sea is only 0.82% in surface area and 0.32% in volume as compared to the world’s ocean, it contains between 4%-18% of the world’s marine species, which is an impressive selection. The Foundation for Information and Research on Marine Mammals (FIRMM) has recorded several dolphin and whale species along the coastline. As a lover of the sea and everything in it, I have attended a few of their excursions to view this wonderful diversity of marine life.
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