Plastifisharen Kostera, Spain

Itsas Gela- Aula del Mar was created with the objective of making known the wide range of possibilities that maritime culture offers, from a perspective of conservation and respect towards the environment and its people.

The coast of Jaizkibel and Ulia is one of the best conserved coastal stretches of the Basque Country with spectacular hilly and rocky landscapes attracting hikers, runners, bikers, climbers, divers and fishers. There are many species of fauna and flora of European interest, and endemic species. The inaccessibility of the cliffs has attracted important colonies of seabirds as well as nests of raptors and scavengers, many of them threatened. The rich marine bottoms and intertidal environments host one of the most important populations of the Gelidium algae of the Basque coast.  Dolphins and other cetaceans often visit this coast to feed. Marine litter affects habitats, species and ecosystems leading to serious risks for humans and wildlife, through exposure to chemical substances, lethal or detrimental effects due to ingestion, as well as entrapment of marine fauna and other animals. This project will: clean the riverbed that leads to the study area, as well as cleanings creeks, seabeds and removing floating debris; raising awareness of the natural value of the area, plus the issues and solutions it faces.   Education workshops will introduce alternatives to and reduction of consumption for different sectors of the population and visitors. (Note: this project Plastifisharen Kostera, was previously titled Jaizkibel-Ulia Clean-up).

The Update

Despite the setbacks and challenges 2020 has thrown at it, this project has successfully completed its planned actions. Amongst its successes includes:
– The removal of 1175kg of litter, involving collections on the coast, as well as in the river and sea.
– Mobilising 733 volunteers, including schools and outdoor enthusiasts such as kayakers, scuba divers and fishermen. Numbers were lower than planned – due to restrictions of the pandemic – but action nevertheless removed a substantial amount of waste.
– Reaching approximately 1000 more people through various actions such as awareness campaigns.
– Providing valuable data to marine litter apps which will be used by the Government to assess the extent of the problem, as well as help guide future action. Initial indications are that the sources of the litter are entirely terrestrial.

In March 2021 the project will hold a final event for all those who participated in the success of this project, giving them well-deserved recognition for their hard work and commitment to addressing and reducing plastic pollution in this beautiful bay.

Image: Celebrating all the hard work!