Let's Do It! dives into the waters - Let's Do It! Mediterranean action

Some of you have already heard rumours about Let's Do It! actions moving from land to the water - a new initiative looking to clean up the beautiful Mediterranean sea and unite all surrounding countries in the effort. We spoke to the teamleader Helene Urva, a young Marine Biologist who's passion to care for the waters of our planet started already at the young age of 8. 

What is Let's Do It! Mediterranean?

It’s a first regional cleanup event of the Let’s Do It World campaign that aims to clean the surface, shallow sea bottom and shores of the entire Mediterranean Sea.   

When and where is it taking place?

If everything goes according to the plan cleanup will take place in the middle of September 2013 (on the 13th, 14th or 15-th of September) 


Mediterranean countries. (Image source: www.worldatlas.com)

Who are organizing this?

Mostly the LDIW teams of the Mediterranean Sea area, also some scientists and enthusiasts of marine sciences from around the world. To be honest, there are still loads of open positions due to the fact that this is a huge attempt and we need much more people than it would be necessary just for one country cleanup.   

Where did the idea come from? Why are you doing this?

I suppose it’s one of those ideas that everyone is wishing for or thinking of and then eventually someone is bold enough to say it out loud. We have found out that there are already loads of initiatives around the Mediterranean Sea that are already doing awareness campaigns or beach cleanups or fishing for litter but they are just not connected enough to give the whole idea (the idea of a clean Mediterranean Sea) a lasting impact. So far I’ve not seen anyone who dislikes the idea. So I suppose in a way it is a collective initiative and it resonates well with the aim of having at least million people participating in a massive cleanup campaign to get all the reachable macroscopic garbage out of the Mediterranean Sea.

What is the state of the Mediterranean Sea - how much waste does it contain, what kind of waste is it and where does it come from?

As we have found out much is known about the micro-plastics and its’ huge negative effect on the marine life. Even though we have ruled out caching micro-plastic due to technical problems and cost of it, it is clear that the source of it is macroscopic plastic – regular garbage from urban areas. No one has actually mapped macroscopic plastic floating on the sea or other waste in the shallow bottoms of coastal area. Of course it is a tricky thing – how do you map moving waste? What is also clear is that the environmental situation in different areas of the Mediterranean Sea can differ quite a bit.  It comes down to currents, salinity, temperature, and shape of the coastal line and characters of the seabed (sand, rocky bottom, gravel?).

(Image source: http://www.enpi-info.eu)

Actually one of the biggest threats to the Mediterranean Seas’ flora and fauna is the increase of anthropogenic influence on the coastlines, especially for those species that need remote beaches for breeding. Also the mindsets can be different enough to cause some points of worry: the European side of the Sea has stricter regulations for garbage disposal and sewerage water collection and cleaning but we are also the side that probably consumes more.  For now I don’t have the knowledge to say how much garbage is in the Mediterranean Sea, but I do know there is loads of it still coming in through bad garbage disposal practices and active tourism. And what I also know is that our science team is working hard to find out all that we can to make this cleanup event more useful.

How are you going to clean the sea? 

Right now we have three main strategies: nets for boats to clean the surface of the water; divers cleaning the bottom of the sea and people that go to beaches to clean the coastline, including remote beaches. We naturally try to reinforce some systematic ideas through local communities and policymakers – recycling, screening the run-off rainwater from urban areas etc.

Are there going to be also simultaneous land-cleanups in the region?

It’s is an open option for all the participating countries. Some of the countries will have a land cleanup in the spring and sea cleanup in September for example.

How big is the LDIM team? Which countries are already involved?

The core team is around 10 people, but besides that our countryteams are growing. I suppose the biggest team in the international level is the science team right now, because at this stage their opinion is the most valuable for our next steps. Active participants so far are Lebanon, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Cyprus, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Turkey, but we also have first contacts in most of the other countries.

Who are welcome to join? What kind of support and contribution is needed today?

Basically anyone should join who has a heart and a will to do something about this issue. Country teams need loads of workforce to get the fundraising and awareness campaigns going and figure out the local environmental specifics, also we need more people to all the international teams (communication, education, research and development, science, mapping, IT, etc…), hopefully we get our open positions available in our blog or webpage soon, because what we actually need are the people who could do little things like helping with the research or updating our Facebook page.

We find it crucial at this stage to find funding to actually physically meet, we’ve been working online for 4 months now, and it would be thrilling to meet eye-to-eye to make our plans come alive. So understandably we need much more power to the sponsorship side.

Why did you personally get involved?

I started cleaning streams and shores near my summerhouse around the age of 8, so I must say the quest for clean environment; especially water has always been an issue for me. When I heard Rainer speaking of the world cleanups on one student conference I approached him later and asked if he was planning to do any sea cleanups, because I’m studying marine biology and I would be most interested in such an event. Luckily for me he had thought of the same thing and we kept contacts… Hopefully my environmental technology / marine biology / teaching background helps me in coordinating all the different and wonderful people who are actually making this event happen.

Helene Urva

Coordinator of the Let’s Do It! Mediterranean core team


Read the LDIM blog: http://mediterraneancleanup.wordpress.com/

Follow LDIM at facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LetsDoItMediterranean?fref=ts

Check LDIM webpage: http://www.letsdoitmediterranean.org/

For more info: info [at] letsdoitmediterranean [dot] org

If you have a very specific role in mind with what to join our team, you can write straight to Helene: helene [dot] urva [at] letsdoitworld [dot] org