What better way to raise public awareness of the challenges faced by our seas and coastlines than by sailing the seas? Staff of new Seas At Risk member, Ecologistas en Accion, will shortly set sail for 1,000 miles on the Diosa Maat, stopping at ports in Northern Spain to inform thousands of citizens of the state of our seas and the problems inherent in high levels of unplanned and unsustainable tourism. The tour will give citizens the opportunity to make their voices heard and to call on policy makers to increase their efforts to tackle these coastal challenges.   

Velero Calderon peq

Two issues are at the heart of this sailing campaign. The first is the wide range of human pressures exerted on our seas and ocean, which sees biodiversity loss increasing while overfishing depletes Spanish marine reserves and alters ecosystems. The Save Our Seas petition (launched jointly with environmental organisations across Europe) will be promoted during the campaign, seeking to collect thousands of signatures from tourists and Spanish residents alike, in a bid to pressure politicians to honour their legal commitment to making European seas healthy by 2020.

The second issue that Ecologistas en Accion will address during the sailing campaign is the phenomenon of excessive tourism. Current related problems are unregulated building and frequent sewage pollution. As a favourite destinations of highly polluting cruise lines, Spain experiences coastal air quality impacts and associated health conditions among residents. A recent study calculated that luxury cruise giant Carnival Corporation emits 10 times more air pollution (SOx) than all of Europe’s cars. Ecologistas en Accion seeks to raise awareness of the importance of local community action to balance tourists and residents, as well as highlighting the role of politicians at local and international level in setting out clear rules for clean maritime transport and reduced air pollution.

Citizens must be aware of what is at stake in their environment. Small lifestyle changes at an individual level can build to make a real difference, while a better informed population can exert important pressure on politicians to tackle environmental problems ambitiously and with greater vision.

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