Underwater clean-up Pucusana

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Project:

Our Clean Harbour, Pucusana

Time of implementation: October 2002 to June 2003
Main Sponsor: New England Biolabs Foundation

Local Partners: Municipality of Pucusana, Local Association of Artisan Fishermen, Roundtable for the Fight against Poverty, Administration of fishing dock
Project Director: Stefan Austermühle
Goals:

  • Clean-up of the seabed of the harbor, employing local workforce and involving the fishermen themselves, as well as national recreational divers
  • Diminish the marine contamination
  • Raise environmental awareness within the local fishermen and the general public
  • Implement a waste recollection system for garbage and chemical substances in the fishing dock of Pucusana.

Why was this project necessary?

 

Pucusana is a small fishing town of about 10,000 inhabitants, situated about 65 kilometers south of the country’s capital, Lima. Like many other fishing towns in Peru, waste treatment is a priority problem that needs to be solved. Caused by the collapse of most of the fisheries resources, the economic situation of local fishermen is worsening every year. According to the mayor of Pucusana, only about 5 % of the town’s citizens are able to pay their taxes. Therefore the community lacks basic finance in order to implement a proper waste collection system. At the same time, environmental awareness and educational levels in Peru are very low. Generally, the poor people of Peru, making up the vast majority of the population, are used to throwing their garbage in the environment wherever they are.

Visual observation via scuba diving therefore showed clearly that the seabed of the harbor of the fishermen fishing town of Pucusana is heavily contaminated by plastic and metal garbage, car wheels, batteries, containers of paint and oil filters, thrown overboard by the local fishermen.

Especially the contamination with chemical substances raises concern about the effects of this contamination in the environment and the local population as local fishermen use the same area for extraction of seafood for the local market. The chemical substances this way, being accumulated in marine filter feeders, may return into the food chain causing serious human health problems.

Results:

  • Clean-up events involving more than 100 local schoolchildren, 12 recreational divers and more than 70 local fishermen working as crew and divers for seafood on 22 boats in Pucusana, resulting in 29 tons of garbage collected from the beaches and the sea floor of Pucusana
  • Implementation of a waste collection system for batteries, oil filters and used oil on the fishing dock of Pucusana.
  • Creation of an educational wall-painting (size: 72 m2)
  • Educational speeches in local schools for more than 400 pupils.
  • Distribution of 2000 information leaflets
  •  Two articles in the newsletter of the “Mesa de Concertación para la Lucha Contra la Pobreza Pucusana” (Planning Committee For the Fight Against Poverty in Pucusana) with a total of 1,500 newsletters being distributed.
  • Nine planning meetings with representatives of city government and members of fishermen associations.
  • Eight national and international press releases (resulting in reports by internet, newspapers and information services and in television reports on the national channel, “Canal N”, as well on the international level on “Univision”.

Obstacles:

Even though the project execution, planned originally for a time of six months, had to be prolonged substantially to a time of ten months because of unforeseeable political instability on a local level, Mundo Azul managed to fully implement the project. Moreover, it was possible because of careful management of the financial resources provided by The New England Biolabs Foundation and because of the very positive co-operation within the local community to also take advantage of unforeseen opportunities and implement additional activities that have not been planned in the original proposal. We therefore believe that the project was more than a complete success. A survey with local fishermen showed that the project was welcomed by the community and reflects the strong support and the increased environmental consciousness of the locals.

Conclusions:

The project “Our Clean Harbor” was a success and had managed to fulfill all its objectives. The marine underwater environment of Pucusana has been substantially improved. The level of community participation was extraordinarily good. Our monitoring surveys show a clear effect on environmental consciousness and a significant rise in environmental awareness. The waste collection system could be implemented and is used by the fishermen. An additional wall painting will help promote the collection system and the environmental conservation in Pucusana for a period of several years more and is benefitting the community as a tourism attraction.

We therefore would like to thank New England Biolabs Foundation for the important support in order to realize this project.

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Mundo Azul – Calle Francisco del Castillo 506 – Miraflores, Lima – email us at: mundoazulorg@gmail.com

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