The mission of Arrels Marines is to protect and guarantee the future conservation of Posidonia meadows, a unique ecosystem in the world. They do so through marine regeneration, ecological awareness and environmental education. Arrels Marines aims to become a leading organisation in the protection of Posidonia oceanica, and to promote the active engagement of locals and tourists to deliver a healthy environment. We talk to Josep Vives, 27 years old, founder and president of Arrels Marines.
What is your background?
After studying and working in Business Management and Administration, I felt the need to apply my knowledge and skills to what I’ve always been passionate about: protecting and conserving nature and all the species that inhabit this world. So I left my job in a financial management company and moved to Bali to work for PlasticBankIndonesia, a company that fights to eradicate poverty in developing countries whilst removing plastic from the environment. In Bali I collaborated and coordinated several projects aimed at the protection and reforestation of mangroves and coral reefs, which ended up being the precursors of Arrels Marines.
What is Arrels Marines, when and how was it created?
Arrels Marines is a non-profit organisation that was set up in 2020 to try to solve two huge problems in our islands; firstly, an unsustainable model of development which puts at risk the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of the Balearic Islands; secondly, the great disconnection that exists between the island population and the sea - we are living with “our backs to the sea”. In addition to this, Arrels Marines is also made up of all the people in this great team and without whom it would not have been possible to develop this project. At the moment we are a multidisciplinary team made up of 9 people ranging from scientists to communicators and educators, from engineers to event organisers, photographers and professional divers all of whom share one passion: the love for the Mediterranean Sea.
What are your goals?
The mission of Arrels Marines is to protect and preserve the beauty of the Balearic Sea through marine conservation, ecological awareness and environmental education. To achieve our goal, we have developed three blocks of work: marine conservation, environmental education and sustainable development.
Regarding marine conservation, we intend to regenerate and protect the Balearic Sea through progressive restoration via marine replanting stations, combined with research to develop proposals for the declaration of new MPAs in locations with high ecological value. Through environmental education we want to promote and encourage on values such as respect, responsibility and cooperation, critical to achieving a better society. We are developing innovative projects aligned with the 2030 Sustainable Development objectives of the United Nations because we are convinced that socio-economic change in the islands is essential to ensure a sustainable future.
What is your vision for the Bay of Pollença?
Pollença is one of most developed bays of Mallorca and this is clearly reflected in the deterioration of its marine ecosystems. Arrels Marines has carried out a series of actions in the inner bay to better understand and explain its ecological state. In honesty, the current reality is quite bleak. However the bay is very large and we believe we can turn things around if we act now. We dive in the area all year round and know that it is a bay with immense potential due to the great variety of habitats found: seagrass meadows, sandy and rocky bottoms, caves etc., all of which are biodiversity hotspots.
For all these reasons, it is essential to implement conservation measures. These range from greater control and surveillance, to restoration and conservation activities which would not only ensure a sustainable future for the bay, but also provide positive socio-economic impacts benefitting the whole municipality of Pollença and its economic sectors, such as restaurants, hotels, diving and nautical centres.
Finally, although it might sound a cliché, I would like to emphasize that the time to act is now, because we are getting close to the point of no return – some studies claim we have already passed it. We need to understand that all our actions have consequences on the environment with direct impacts on ecosystems and the diversity of life that our future as a species depends on. And no, climate change is not just happening in remote rainforests or far-flung coral reefs. Global warming affects us all and the Balearic Islands, unfortunately, are no exception.
A quick quiz for Sea Lovers:
A book: Children of the Monsoon, by David Jiménez.
An image that evokes the Balearics in you: El Cap de Formentor.
A marine species: Oceanic manta ray - Mobula birostris.
A person or organisation of reference: David Attenborough.
A beach: Cala Figuera, in Pollença.
A phrase that defines you: according to my brother, I am a ''land octopus; a type of sea creature that lives on land and has hands for everything''.
Optimistic, realistic or pessimistic? Realist.