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Arxiu de notícies » Gloria García Hoyo: on the frontline fighting plastic pollution in a Spanish SPAMI

Gloria García Hoyo: on the frontline fighting plastic pollution in a Spanish SPAMI

5 Març 2021 | Actualitzat: 7 Març 2021

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and SPAMI (Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance) are the guardians of the internationally recognized Mediterranean biodiversity and they are not spared when it comes to plastic-related issues. Protecting them from plastic pollution is an additional challenge for their managers. This requires knowledge, tools, support and resources, which they often lack.  

The role of women in coastal management is often diminished, although both men and women inevitably have an impact on MPA implementation and management and play different but equally important key roles as stakeholders. 

In Southern Spain, two women are taking action to protect the SPAMI of Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park: Lucía Tejero Trujeque, the Natural Park’s director of conservation, and Gloria García Hoyo, technical assistant and geologist. Their favourite working place, the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, has been integrated into the Global Geoparks Network, an association under the auspices of UNESCO. The geopark accreditation recognized the geological values of Cabo de Gata-Níjar, its volcanic origin, the conservation of its 63 kilometres of steep coastline and its seabed, its sub-desert and steppe ecosystems, its uniqueness as a maritime-terrestrial natural space and its potential for promoting geological tourism. This tourism has many aspects and the park is also a victim of its own success. A flagship destination for tourism, it also suffers because of it.  

More than ever we realize that we must act, and quickly. This year we have seen a large quantity of disposable masks pour into the sea. These masks represent an additional problem to the one we were already facing with plastics and other types of litter,” confides Gloria García. She adds: “We jumped at the opportunity to take part in projects in the Mediterranean that aimed to share knowledge and methodologies to analyse the problem of plastic and eliminate it sustainably with targeted measures”.  

On this road towards a Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park free of plastic, Lucía Trujeque and Gloria García are directly supported by SCP/RAC through two EU-funded projects (ACT4LITTER and PLASTIC BUSTERS MPAs). Within the first project, SCP/RAC helped the MPA managers to identify the most effective and feasible measures to tackle marine litter in their MPA-specific context, while the second project allowed them to go further by implementing the measure on site.  

It was fortunate for us that we were able to count on the SCP/RAC team. Here at the Cabo de Gata, we didn't know where to start or how. To eradicate the plastic problem, it is necessary to identify the principal source of litter, to mobilize all the regional actors, to establish an effective action plan and to implement it. Through these projects, we not only received the support of SCP/RAC and other project partners to implement concrete measures, but we also had the chance to participate in many events at Mediterranean level to echo our work.” She continues: “Being heard, having the opportunity to meet MPA managers with profiles and actions similar to ours, but in different regions and with different contexts, allowed us to better understand and address the scale of the problem. It was also the occasion to realize that many women work in MPAs too, as in other institutions, universities, governments, NGOs, which have supported us all this time.” 

Implementing, transferring and capitalizing on existing solutions with the active involvement of MPA managers is crucial in order to effectively prevent litter from ending up in the sea. However, it is not the only solution. The strategy must encompass different types of actors, the approach must be multi-sectorial and responses should be developed at different scales (local, national, regional and global). SCP/RAC actively supports the implementation of the Barcelona Convention Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management with a strong focus on the prevention of marine litter from land-based sources.   

SCP/RAC supports the development of a robust policy framework to prevent plastic pollution, including the provision of tools and capacity; boosts the development of innovative solutions by green entrepreneurs, raises citizen awareness to enable consumers’ informed choice, and promotes dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders. This vision also aims at breaking the silos between gender actors and  paying particular attention to creating a more gender-inclusive environment. 


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