The ‘Campaign for a Plastic Free Ria Formosa’ project aims to save the seahorses for which the Ria is famous.

Promoted by the Algarve-based Association for the Study and Conservation of Oceans (aECO), it won a worldwide competition for funding held by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA), in the Oceans category.

The Algarve project achieved the highest number of votes, with over 10,300 public votes, or 51 percent of the votes cast, having fought off competition from four other projects in the same category.

In a statement on its Facebook page, aECO said it is now “time to get to work”; in July the association will start a series of land-cleaning campaigns it had already organised prior to scooping the prize.

The financing attained through the competition will now allow aECO to expand the size of the area annually cleaned on the Ria Formosa by 11 kilometres, as well as adding underwater operations and PR campaigns to its activities.

It will help fund a series of awareness-raising initiatives against the consumption of plastic, “and reach out to residents, tourists, fishermen and students with photographic exhibitions in Faro and Olhão, lectures in supermarkets, and an online campaign”.

“We appreciate all the votes, the messages and the shares. It was great to feel your support, but it is even better to realise that it is not only this project that is gaining momentum, but that there are many other similar initiatives flourishing around the world”, the Algarve association concluded.