January 11, 2022

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By Aline Aguiar, Hope Spot Champion

In a recent beach clean-up campaign in Brazil from November 15th – December 12th, 2021, more than 1,000 participants collected 110lbs (50kg) of trash and brought 529lbs (240kg) of glass and electronic waste to reuse and recycle. 


The Cagarras Islands and Surrounding Waters Hope Spot encompasses a special insular ecosystem on the Brazilian metropolitan waters: the Cagarras Islands Natural Monument. This extraordinary place is a relevant haven for biodiversity, harboring hundreds of species, including rare, endemic, threatened, and even new species that science has not yet described. The marine protected area (MPA) preserves one of the largest nesting grounds of the South Atlantic for frigate birds and brown boobies. One can also spot sea turtles, dolphins, and whales on the surrounding waters.

 

Social Awareness campaign at Praia Vermelha Beach nearby the famous Sugarloaf Mountain. Several projects joined to raise awareness on ocean conservancy. (c) Caio Salles

 

However, the Hope Spot is located on the waterfront of Rio de Janeiro city’s heavily populated metropolitan area. Serious threats endanger the Cagarras Islands and surrounding waters, especially marine pollution. An enormous amount of plastic pollution washes ashore, continuously drifting onto the islands’ rocky shores because of improper litter disposal in the city. Floating rubbish is frequently caught by seabirds that use it on their nests on the Cagarras Islands and can get entangled. Marine turtles and cetaceans are victims of local plastic pollution by incidental ingestion or body entangling. Ghost fishing also threatens marine life. The surrounding MPA is still subjected to pollution of its waters due to domestic and organic effluents. This pollution comes especially from the Ipanema Sewage Outfall and runoff from river channels and the city’s pluvial system.

 

Call to Action in Ipanema Beach in partnership with Coopama, a local Recycling Cooperative. The participants brought more than 200 kg of glass and electronic trash to recycle and reuse. (c) Caio Salles

 

From November 15th through December 12th, 2021, we hosted a series of underwater and beach clean-up task forces and online communication campaigns focused on the Hope Spot. “People must comprehend the ominous threats of marine pollution to the coastal and insular ecosystems and its impacts on biodiversity, peoples’ health, and in the end, the local economy”, said Caio Salles, Hope Spot Champion and Director of Verde Mar Project.

 

Underwater clean-up task force performed at Cagarras Islands Natural Monument. Divers collected fishing lines and other plastic debris. (c) Caio Salles
 

 

We held these events at some of Brazil’s most famous beaches to ensure we reached a large public audience. The activities reinforced that people can be part of the solution, mobilized the audience to change habits, and highlighted that policymakers must adopt social and eco-friendly practices to end marine pollution.

“By reducing some of the threats, we will give a chance for relevant areas, such as the Cagarras Islands and Praia Vermelha Cove, to recover their pristine characteristics naturally”, explained Aline Aguiar, Hope Spot Champion and Scientific Supervisor of Ilhas do Rio Project.

“We want to get people engaged and onboard to protect our ocean, and consequently, enhance human wellbeing. We want to promote our actions and give people hope to have similar positive changes in their own cities’ waterfront”, she concludes.

 

Ilhas do Rio and Verde Mar projects’ teams and the artists Marcelo Macedo and Guilherme Gafi during the Social Awareness Campaign on marine pollution at Copacabana Beach. (c) Caio Salles
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