Back in 2013, a small group of recreational fishermen gathered to make a small Estuary Clean up, on their Tarpon fishing grounds. The Clean Up, was fueled by an editorial (Doug Olander) in Sport Fishing Magazine, which raved that in our island we were very fortunate to have such excellent Tarpon Fisheries, just 5 minutes away from the International Airport. But the author and editor, also lamented that our fishing grounds were literally abandoned, full of garbage. He called on the governor of Puerto Rico and citizens in general to do something about it.
After that editorial was posted on Facebook, local fisherman became aware of the seriousness of the issue and word about our “clean up”, quickly spread. We even got a call from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (we thought it was a joke), but it was real, that they were interested in seeing first-hand the clean-up efforts. And oh last but not least, remember the editorial of Sport Fishing Magazine? The editor and now close friend, Doug Olander, was also interested in participating in the clean-up effort.
In a single day, a regular, small “clean up” had just became something massive. And the pressure and expectations were out of this world. So, with the help of the private sector (over 50 sponsors) alongside the government, we started putting the pieces together.
The day of the event, we surpassed our expectations. Over 500 volunteers showed up, from all around the island. It was incredible to see volunteers of all ages, gather to collect trash, a flotilla of Kayaks and boats accompanied by a militia of people who raked the mangroves. At the end of the morning, over 25,000 pounds of trash were collected from our beloved estuaries. Later in the evening, we had an educational agenda, talks on sustainable fishing practices and a raffle.
At the end of the day, we were exhausted, but people told us they wanted to do it again. There was unfinished business. Later that year, we organized “Pesca, Playa y Ambiente” as a 501 C (3) Non-Profit Organization. A second Mega Clean Up was made and since, we have been recognized as one of the leading environmental non-profits in Puerto Rico.
Last but not least, Doug Olander and Dr. Guy Harvey, were so impress with our efforts that now they are integral part of our advisory board.
Welcome to Pesca, Playa y Ambiente!