by Taetske | 1:23 pm
(Last Updated On: April 22, 2019)

Waste is suffocating the Mediterranean Sea

 

a geographic map of the mediterranean sea

A Geographic map of the Mediterranean Sea

 

The Mediterranean Sea has a big problem. It is becoming more polluted at an alarming rate. The culprit is well known. It is plastic, which forms 95% of the waste in the sea and on the beaches. Most of this waste is from Turkey and Spain, followed by Italy, Egypt, and France.

When the tourist season starts in these countries, marine plastic pollution increases by 40% each summer. When you go on holiday you would like to find clean beaches and clean water right. How is it then, those tourists who pollute so much, later complain about it.

 

garbage on the beach

Garbage on the beach

 

A mountain formed by wet wipes

Not only are the oceans suffering from plastic pollution but it also happens in the Mediterranean Sea. Recently I read in the Spanish newspaper that on the Costa del Sol, in the south of Spain just off the town of Nerja, the seabed is a rubbish dump.

The environmentalists have repeatedly complained to the police about irregularities in effluent treatments in the cities of Nerja and also Coin. This issue has now been passed on to the court.

A survey ship discovered an estimated 9 tonnes of used wet wipes lying on the seabed forming a big mountain. This happened in the summer of 2018 and the mayors and ex-mayors were questioned about this but denied any responsibility. They put the onus on the Junta de Andalucia and blamed inadequate infrastructure for creating this problem.

 

lovely sea view with sailing boat

Lovely sea view with a sailing boat

 

Spain is fined by the EU

This is, of course, a very serious problem as it affects the health of people as well as fauna and flora. It will have a negative effect on tourism because people would like a clean sea to swim in.

For the last few years, Spain has been fined by the EU for allowing the continued discharge of untreated waste by some of its councils. The current investigation was initiated by the green group called, Ecologistas en Acción. This group is a confederation of 300 ecologist groups in Spain that united in 1998 to bring this issue to the attention of the public and communities.

In total 16 mayors, former mayors, public officials, and councilors have been interrogated by the police. These people were from Nerja and Coin. The complaints started some time ago when it was found that five local communities in the area of Nerja and Coin were not treating their wastewater. Some other areas including Estepona and San Pedro also had problems. A new treatment plant opened on July 19th, 2017 at Guadalmansa close to Estepona, so now there only seems to be three town halls flouting the 2001 law. This law states that populations with over 15.000 inhabitants are required to have wastewater treatment plants.

 

wave on the sea shore

Wave on the seashore

 

Uncontrolled waste dumping

The inland town of Coin does not present a positive image as private people and businesses dump there wastewater into protected tributaries of the Pereilas river, causing everything to die there. Except for Alhaurin de la Torre, where I have lived since 1981, the whole Gualdalhorce valley is not functioning as it should. It seems that in 2010 the Junta de Andalucia promised 47 sewage treatment plants, which were going to be paid for by a water-bill levy. Townhalls are waiting for this to happen and in the meantime, we are presented with an ecological mess.

Nerja, that lovely village on the sea, still has a big problem because untreated sewage is discharged to the sea at 3 separate points. Construction for a new plant started in 2014 but is only fourth-fifths finished, due to financial problems the construction company has and disagreements within the council. As the construction is not completed the townhall says it is not their responsibility yet.

 

dawn in nerja

Dawn in Nerja

 

An expedition to investigate pollution

Coming back to the beginning of this post, it is a fact that the seabed of Nerja is heavily polluted. 9 Tonnes of used wet wipes is not peanuts. One of the discharge pipes which pours this wastewater into the sea is situated at a depth of only 2 meters. It can be observed by any boat or kayak passing by and in addition, it is very close to a protected natural area.

In August of 2018, Seprona, which is the specialist environmental agency of the Guardia Civil, sent professional divers and sounding teams to this area. They asked for help from the governments Instituto Espanol de Oceanografia. From them, a 46-meter-long survey ship, the Angeles Alvarino was borrowed, bringing the ship down to the Mediterranean sea from its home base in Galicia.

This expedition had a cost of Euros 11.000 which is being paid for by the Spanish government. If in the future, anyone is tried and found guilty, this money might be recovered. At this moment, one is waiting for things to happen and in the meantime, the mountain of wet wipes is getting bigger.

 

sea turtle

Sea Turtle

 

Plastic, fisher nets and sea turtles

Another story, written by Ignacio Lillo, also for the newspaper Sur in English, documents the effects all this pollution has on marine life. The Malaga marine conservation organization Aula del Mar rescued four turtles which had consumed plastic. This organization reported on a sharp rise in plastic levels found in the Mediterranean Sea. One of the turtles did not survive but the other 3 are slowly improving.

Recently, a loggerhead sea turtle, which had been rescued at sea after being trapped in a piece of netting last year (May 2018) was released again. It was observed that the turtle had suffered injuries and also had an infection. It had many small pieces of plastic in its digestive system and this caused a direct problem with its buoyancy control.

Luckily it regained its health and was set free after months being treated. It will swim again in the sea but this sea is polluted so how long it will be till it develops problems again, one does not know.

The Aula of Malaga rescues animals from the Malaga beaches, and last year, they were able to save the life of 8 animals, dolphins and sea turtles. Sadly there were more dead animals found on the beach.

 

 

Conclusion

It is so sad that we cause these problems in our environment. Fauna and flora and humans all suffer the consequences of our actions. I do hope those wastewater treatment plants will be built in the near future so at least the coast of the Spanish Mediterranean Sea will stay clean. Luckily more people become aware of the many crimes committed to our environment. Hendrik will tell you what you can do on a personal level.

 

Source: Sur in English, article March 22 to 28th, 2019 by Juan Cano/Fernando Torres/Alvaro Frias

Photo Source: Pixabay

 

I love to travel and see new places. Those memories will stay with you forever. You might like to read my post on a great trip to the south of Portugal.

A Great Trip to the South of Portugal

 

Comments

Extrovert1

Hey Taetske,

This is an informative and educative article I must say. I have come to know about how the Mediterranean sea and others oceans are polluting through the waste of human beings. I liked when you shared the pathetic side of our society that the tourists pollute these seas and then later they complain about it. It’s sad but harsh reality. So the people should be more about it and I am going to share this article so that the people can be aware about it.

Thank you for writing this helpful article.

Apr 22.2019 | 06:59 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning, sorry, but I do not know your name.

    Thank you for leaving a comment on my website. I hope that you downloaded your free PDF?

    Tourists and locals, we all are polluters of our environment. Having 2 websites for more than 2 years my world view has changed considerably. I have become aware of things I did not know about before. It is high time we get our act together to hopefully save our habitat, we only have this planet as home.

    Regards, Taetske

    Apr 23.2019 | 06:17 am

Lee

This is such a sad post. Yet, it could be written about almost any major body of water in the world. I live close to the Mississippi River, the largest river in the United States, and it has a serious problem very similar to what you are describing in the Mediterranean. Regardless of political views, everyone should be in favor of measures that keep these bodies of water clean.

Apr 22.2019 | 06:59 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Lee,

    Thank you for commenting on my post. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    Yes, you are right, this is a sad post. The situation of the Mediterranean Sea reflects the world situation. It is bad everywhere and it is our fault. No need to say we need to clean up our act otherwise it is too late. 

    As the situation is so urgent we should choose our leaders with more care.

    Regards, Taetske

    Apr 23.2019 | 06:21 am

Dennis

Wow it is so sad. I was on the Mediterranean in 2009 and even then saw the pollution. The lack of fish also amazed me as I have always been an avid fisherman.

We have this discussion before but I still believe that going with plant based plastics is the ticket. I am talking with my Public rep about getting something going. here in the states we just passed the Farm Bill of 2019 that legalizes industrial hemp for commercial agriculture and industry development. These plastics are just as sturdy as their synthetic counterparts and are eco friendly. as waste they become food and fertilizer.

I agree changing peoples habits too is important but It is so important that on every level we try to control our waste.

My ex-wifes family is from that area in Spain with the trouble and I know she visited in the 80″s and came home complaining about open sewers in the streets and untreated sewage left exposed. So I guess they have not come much farther.

I will pray for the Med to retain it’s life and beautiful blue color and work tirelessly to help change our habits!

onward n upward

Apr 22.2019 | 07:00 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Dennis,

    Nice to see you again. Thank you for your comment.

    I have lived on the Costa del Sol since 1976 and have seen many changes, mostly for the better. The word, environment was not heard often in those days. When I bring the waste up to the street there are different containers for plastic, glass, carton and paper, and normal waste. That is a big improvement. I live on an organic farm so the organic waste we use as fertilizer in the vegetable garden

    The new Farm Bill of 2019 sounds good. Yes, I know that hemp is great and you can make many things from it, toilet paper to building houses. Where I live one does not see it yet for sale.

    It might still be that in slum areas there are open sewage but the Spanish laws on those type of things have become better. People, like town majors, might face prison getting caught on environmental crimes. Spain has improved a lot but of course, can still do better.

    I think that the younger generation might be able to cause changes. A worldwide protest is probably the only way to make people wake up and realize we have hardly any time left. Choosing the right type of leaders would also help. 

    Apr 23.2019 | 06:42 am

Sherry

It is so sad to see what humans are doing to this earth. I am grateful for all who do any little bit to help the environment aND animals which in turn helps humans. I myself have started doing my part to reduce my carbon foot print. I recycle, use sustainable eco-friendly products, eat organic and have eradicated use of single use plastics.  I also use reusable grocery bags! I truly hope we can turn things around. Thank you for sharing and bringing attention to this problem 

Apr 22.2019 | 07:44 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Sherry,

    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I hope you have downloaded your free PDF?

    Mother Earth is a living and feeling being and what we are doing to her is awful. The more I find out about things the less I understand why humans harm the environment so much, after all. it is our habitat and that of future generations. As Dennis said in his comment Hemp is the answer to this huge problem we have, plastic. 

    I also shop with my own bags, eat as much produce as possible from my organic farm, and on a whole try to also reduce my carbon footprint.

    Regards, Taetske

    Apr 23.2019 | 06:50 am

Hendrik Kaiser

Hey Taetske,
thank you for pointing this out to us and I hope we can find lots of readers and action takers. It breaks my heart to read this and to hear that we are destroying this planet at record speeds. But yes we need to take action and I feel that there is a lot of good things happening at the same time. Maybe we are going to lose all of our wildlife and the oceans, well yeah they seem to just be a big dump. But with new technologies and new generations, there is hope. The good news is that mother earth is going to survive this no matter what.

Apr 23.2019 | 10:39 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Hendrik,

    Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    Recently, young people marched in protest as our current leaders are not doing enough to save our environment. The environment is after all our habitat and we are destroying it at an alarming rate. We should be more careful about what leaders we vote for. Of course, there are also many positive things happening in our world but I do not know if that will outweigh the bad.
    I am sending you a link to a video. I do not know if you have seen it. It is very worrying.
    https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/pMbeYJgH_6g

    Regards, Taetske

    Apr 24.2019 | 05:50 am

Nate MC

This is incredibly sad. I can’t believe there’s 9 tons of wipes and counting, just piling up. And once again, plastic is one of the main culprits. I fear that if some solid action isn’t taken to address the problem, and very soon, then it’s going to get to the point where it’s too late to do anything. Such a shame though.

Jun 03.2019 | 12:50 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Nate, 

    Thank you for your visit and leaving a comment. I hope you have downloaded your free PDF?

    It does not put the southern coast of Spain in a good light. I am happy that steps are being taken to solve this problem, slowly, that is true. The more people are being made aware of this the more pressure there is on the authorities to come up with a solution. 

    On a personal level, we also carry part of this problem as we should treat our environment with more love and care.

    Regards, Taetske

    Jun 04.2019 | 06:28 am

Chris

It’s so tragic that it basically took a BBC documentary (which was excellent) to bring this natural disaster to the public…and since it’s aired we are getting more and more images of how bad the situation is. 

To me, it’s actually got to the point where there is only one solution, and that’s if all countries get on board – replace the packaging in supermarkets/stores etc with something organic. Sure prices may well go up, and food won’t last as long…but it’s got to a tipping point now that is hard to ignore. 

Do you agree with types of solutions?

Jun 03.2019 | 12:58 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Chris,

    Nice to see you again. Thank you for your comment.

    Yes, I agree that all countries should come to an agreement and then fulfill their promises. My newest post is about this crazy thing of transporting tons of plastic waste overseas. Each country is responsible for its own waste. 

    I have also written about the plastic wrapping of produce which actually does not need it. Most fruits and vegetables come in their own wrapping, their skin. There are many things we can do on a personal basis which helps the environment, we only need to be re-educated.

    Regards, Taetske 

    Jun 04.2019 | 06:22 am

Dave Sweney

You have explained clearly the many reasons the Mediterranean Sea is suffering from a waste overload, what is not so clear is how the governments are proposing to clean the sea up. In so many regions that I have been to, waste is there like never before (I have been traveling in the various coastal areas for over 40 years now)…

I cannot remember a time when it is as bad as it is right now in many places and I understand why after reading your article. It is time for all of us to demand that the governments do more and also demand the same from people and companies using the beaches and the waters…

This cannot be the legacy of our generation – that we saw and did nothing, that we knew and did not care, that we took, but did not replace, that we loved, but did not love enough to make sure the next generations can enjoy the beaches and waters as we have.

The many examples you have highlighted really brings my thoughts to bear and I know that it is good that the problems are being addressed. I get the feeling that we are running out of time somehow, and I do hope that we get the fixes in place so we do not lose the fish, the fauna, the flora, and the ecosystems…

Thanks for keeping this important concern in the public’s eyes, this is what it takes to make sure that action continues to be pressed to correct the many polluters that are out there. We owe it to our kids, and their kids…

Jun 03.2019 | 01:00 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Dave,

    It is always a pleasure to see you. I really appreciate your long and thoughtful comments

    I also get the impression there is not much time left. The point of no return is rapidly coming closer. So many things are happening all at the same time and they are all related and consequences of our stupid actions.

    On one side you see senseless destruction of our environment, the cutting down of centuries-old trees, our oxygen suppliers. Then the pollution of the water and air, we rob the habitat of many species which have gone extinct or are on the verge, There are so many things which are extremely negative that it really depresses me.

    Then again one hears very positive things like products made of recycled plastic, quite amazing. Like beach trousers which are made out of 11 plastic bottles or fishernet- sunglasses. Who would have thought that is possible?

    What is sure our actions are changing the world for better or for worse and we should better learn how to adapt to this change. 

    Regards, Taetske

    Jun 04.2019 | 06:12 am

Claude Langlais

Hi Taetske, There should be more website like your site to keep us awake. It is worse than a tragedy when you see tourist misbehave and pollute like it is not their problem but the problem of the native. We are responsible for each other and I think there should be international programs to help those communities struggling with heavy pollution and missing money to implement the recommendations. Very useful site!

Jun 03.2019 | 01:18 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Claude,

    Thank you for your visit and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    Luckily Spain is waking up and getting their act together. I have lived here for many years and have seen the environmental evolution. It is getting a lot better but it is not perfect as this mountain of wet wipes illustrates. 

    If we would all become more conscious of the fact that our actions are important Good actions multiply and become big and positive,  bad ones multiply and become a disaster. We have a responsibility for future generations.

    Regards, Taetske  

    Jun 04.2019 | 05:58 am

ofer keren

SEA WATCH PROJECT – The challenge is huge, but we have to deal with it
We are looking for partners in a Mediterranean coastal monitoring project. This is a simple application for smartphones that is already working in Israel, which enables real-time access to the authorities who supervise the quality of the beach and the appropriate authorities in each country. For more information, please contact us – interested in 4 other countries in the Mediterranean to bid for a European Union tender.

Jun 14.2019 | 03:04 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Ofer,

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. I hope you have downloaded your free PDF?

    Just recently, I wrote a post on volunteers and amateur scientists who help the scientific community with their observations.

    https://motherearthstreasures.com/amateur-scientists-offer-valuable-data-to-the-scientific-community

    I am sorry but I do not use a smartphone. I am a nature person so not overly fond of technology. I got a computer by the end of 2013 and in January I created 2 websites where I write about my hobbies, my observations and also worries. The more you investigate the more things you come across. Thanks to my websites my world view has changed quite a bit and I feel the urge to write about these things. We, the people are not informed about what is happening. Be it on food, climate change, and now 5G comes on top of it all.

    I am sending you my other website https://www.healthyantiagingalternatives.com which also has some plastic related posts.

    If I can be of any help, please let me know.

    Regards, Taetske

    Jun 15.2019 | 07:05 am

AlanJE

Hi Taetske, I enjoyed reading the articles on your website. I appreciate the fact that you publicize and inform and educate people about such matters as pollution and waste. Really Governments should take their responsibilities seriously to manage and control what is done by their populations. People individually need to take responsibility for pollution as well, and the use of plastic is a real problem. How to change habits which have led to the demise of traditional methods, which are superseded by plastics in numerous forms. I find it a little depressing that the problem is of overwhelming proportions, Best Regards Alan

Jul 17.2019 | 06:54 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Alan,

    Thank you for your visit and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.

    When you look at the world there are many problems and most of them are created by men. It is not a pretty picture, that is for sure It is said that by the year 2050 we will live in a continuous African heatwave and by the year 2100 Portugal and Spain will be a desert.
    By the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish and most of the ice has melted flooding huge areas, Holland and other countries will not exist anymore. I mean this whole scenario is apocalyptic and I am happy I will not be around to see it happen.
    Knowing these things will happen in the future still do not seem enough to make people realize that action is required. Now, something has to be done.
    I will continue writing about it in the hope it could help, but to tell you the truth I am far from sure it will.

    Regards, Taetske

    Jul 18.2019 | 06:40 am

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