In its latest bid to reinforce the message of marine sustainability to the youngsters, the Mirpuri Foundation welcomed big wave surfer António Silva to the Foundation’s latest workshop at the Cascais Naval Club, in Portugal.

António, who was there to share with the pupils his experiences of life as one of the country’s top aquatic sportsmen and in his role as Foundation Ambassador, made clear his personal commitment to raising awareness of the growing amounts of plastic litter despoiling our oceans, and encouraged the youngsters present to volunteer to participate in coastal clean-up initiatives such as those promoted by the Foundation.

At the event, Antonio, who holds the Portuguese record for his surfing of the biggest wave in Nazaré, spoke to local school children about the excitement and challenges of travelling the world chasing the biggest waves.

He warned them too however about the damage he has seen being caused to the environment he loves – giving the children examples of the harm he has witnessed on his travels.

“What is key,” said Antonio, “is that children are aware of what is happening in our oceans and around our planet.

“It’s important for them to have the facts at their fingertips so that, as they grow into adulthood, they start thinking seriously about what is important for their futures.

“After all, they will soon be the decision-makers and custodians of this amazing planet.”

António shared practical examples of how children could do their bit to help in the fight against plastic pollution, pointing out that this could be by helping pick up litter on the beach or by encouraging their own families to reduce their plastic consumption.

Antonio’s personal reflections were followed by a talk from Foundation representative, Ana Agostinho, who  sought to establish the level of the children’s awareness of sustainability issues before explaining to them the serious pollution problems now arising from the often single-use of plastic items, not only in Portugal but across the world.

During the course of Ana’s presentation, she urged the teenagers to ‘Recycle, Reduce, Reuse’ and described some of the initiatives currently being supported by the Foundation. The children were encouraged to consider environmental alternatives to single-use plastic items forming part of their own everyday lives.

They were also given information on how plastics in the sea begin to break down, with the passage of time, into microplastics, and they were shown how these tiny polluting particles are then spread by ocean currents around the planet.

At part of the workshop, the children were also given a tour of Cascais Marina, where they were shown the newly-fitted ‘Seabin’ installed by the Foundation.

The Seabin is literally a floating rubbish bin that sucks debris out of the water in locations such as marinas, docks, yacht clubs and commercial ports.

The Cascais Seabin seen by the children was the first one to be installed in Portuguese waters, and it will be the first to be operated as part of the ‘Seabin Share Program’, which is designed to help mitigate ocean pollution through the sharing of high-quality data.

The bin moves up and down with the tide collecting all floating material, including oil: water is sucked in from the surface and passes through a catch bag inside the bin; the water is then pumped back into the harbour leaving litter and debris trapped in the catch bag to be disposed of properly.

The children were able to watch the bin being emptied and saw the plastic bags, cutlery, Styrofoam and ropes that had been captured.

Each device is capable of holding 20 kgs of floating debris. All the rubbish collected at Cascais is then sent to universities for further examination as part of the Seabin Share Program.