• Future

Fighting for Plastic-free Oceans

  • Future

We need to better protect the North Sea and the Baltic Sea! Three quar­ters of all Germans clear­ly support this state­ment – and so does the NABU, the Nature And Biodi­ver­si­ty Conser­va­tion Union Germany (Naturschutzbund Deutsch­land e. V.). We at Valdivia, also, care very much indeed about the protec­tion of the oceans and their inhab­i­tants, espe­cial­ly since the depth of the ocean is the symbol of our work in Exec­u­tive Search and the inspi­ra­tion for our name.

Ever-grow­ing waste pollu­tion is a threat to both oceans ’at out door step’; an esti­mat­ed 600,000 m³ of waste is lying on the bottom of the North Sea alone. The NABU just could not stand by and so they creat­ed the Plas­tic-free Oceans initia­tive in 2010. Follow­ing the holi­day program of Volun­teer World, this is the second initia­tive to free the oceans of waste, which we present in our Valdivia Future series – and there is a very concrete occa­sion for it: 16 Septem­ber marks the world-wide Coastal CleanUp Day, which you can join your­self to active­ly get involved togeth­er with NABU.

Germany’s Largest Envi­ron­men­tal Association

As early as in 1899, Lina Hähn­le found­ed the Asso­ci­a­tion for the Protec­tion of Birds (Bund für Vogelschutz), today known as Naturschutzbund Deutsch­land e. V. (NABU), and support­ed by more than 900,000 members. About 70,000 volun­teers, organ­ised in over 2,000 local groups, are active­ly commit­ted to hands-on envi­ron­men­tal protection.

The protec­tion of the ocean­ic envi­ron­ment, is an inte­gral part of this – and, unfor­tu­nate­ly, this involves efforts to rid the beach­es and the seas of plas­tic waste. NABU focus­es on the North and the Baltic Sea, works out infor­ma­tion mate­ri­als for and with fish­ers and water-sports enthu­si­asts, sets up clean­ing campaigns on beach­es and river banks, and they support envi­ron­men­tal moni­tor­ing at the coasts.

When Yoghurt Contain­ers Are the ’Catch of the Day’

Togeth­er with fish­ers, NABU has set up Fish­ing for Litter, a project to collect, sort, docu­ment and dispose of waste ’by-catch’ in an envi­ron­men­tal­ly safe way. From the first days in 2011, Fish­ing for Litter has been a success story. To date, fish­ers in 18 harbours have land­ed over 62 tons of waste from the North and the Baltic Sea. With the support of the feder­al states of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, effec­tive logis­tics for waste dispos­al has been estab­lished. In coop­er­a­tion with Magde­burg-Sten­dal Univer­si­ty, NABU is also inves­ti­gat­ing recy­cling of waste or the poten­tials for decom­po­si­tion in seawater.

Getting Involved: It’s So Easy

NABU is an inter­ac­tive commu­ni­ty, offer­ing a number of oppor­tu­ni­ties to become involved, not only through dona­tions but also through active­ly work­ing for the protec­tion of nature and the oceans:

  • Coastal Clean­ing Day (Tag der Küsten­reini­gung) on 16 September
    Among the most promi­nent occa­sions is Inter­na­tion­al Coastal CleanUp (ICC), a day on which volun­teers get active world­wide – 17 millions in 35 years. Just for NABU, over 500 people helped collect­ing about 7 tons of waste last year. Join in spon­ta­neous­ly: you will find all the infor­ma­tion on CleanUp Day right here.
  • Appeal to the Feder­al Chan­cel­lor: Strenght­en Marine Reserves
    Support life at the North and Baltic Sea with just a few clicks: Germany’s marine reserves are in a sorry state. They suffer from fish­ing pres­sure, exca­va­tiona, unre­strained build­ing activ­i­ties and boats plough­ing through them. This is an endan­ger­ment for many species, animals and plants alike, as well as their capac­i­ty to store CO2. NABU is there­fore appeal­ing to the Feder­al Chan­cel­lor, to declare at least 50% of the marine reserves no-use zones and thus truly protect them.
  • The Saviours of the Waters (’Gewässer­ret­ter’) Campaign
    You can report pollu­tion or waste at coasts and rivers on the website Gewässer­ret­ter, kick off your own clean­ing campaign, or learn about other future campaigns.

Ocean Spon­sor­ing: An Offer You Can’t Refuse

These campaigns, howev­er, are just exam­ples! NABU’s success rests on the active commit­ment of many indi­vid­u­als – rang­ing from differ­ent dona­tion options to member­ships and volun­teer­ing. Becom­ing an Ocean Spon­sor is just one such option:

Give target­ed support as a sea spon­sor for the fasci­nat­ing nature of the North and the Baltic Sea! As a thank-you, you will received the Meeres-Post (Ocean Mail), your person­al spon­sor­ing certifi­cate, a poster, and infor­ma­tion about the project. Advo­cate for a healthy envi­ro­ment worth living in, under water – we at Valdivia will always be happy to report on this subject – with the oceans being the basis and begin­ning of all life.


1 Results of NABU’s Civey survey to go with the Day of the Oceans (Tag der Meere) on 8 June 2023: 73.8 % of inter­vie­wees support­ed the state­ment that at least half of the marine reserves need­ed to be fully exempt from harm­ful exploita­tion in order to allow their species and habi­tats to recover.

(Image source: NABU)