The Foundation for the Preservation of Menorca (FPM) is a non-profit organisation that raises funds to support local projects aiming to preserve the environment, flora and fauna of the island. We chat to Rebecca Morris, director of FPM.
Tell us about your background. How did you end up working at FPM?
I’ve been working with the Foundation for the Preservation of Menorca since mid-2017, when we started up, and I feel very privileged to have this job. It’s given me the opportunity to play a proactive role in the restoration and preservation of our beautiful island, as well as the possibility of meeting and working with so many wonderful people through the projects we support and the organisations and people with whom we collaborate.
My parents are English, but I grew up in Menorca, where I spent my early years and went to school. My father ran a sailing academy… to be honest, my childhood, which I spent with my brothers, was really quite idyllic, with its adventures on the Camí de Cavalls trail, our summers on the beach and endless days spent on the boat and snorkelling.
When I turned seventeen, I went to the UK to continue my studies and stayed there until I finished university. I then spent eight years working on various NGOs, including Save the Children and Médecins sans Frontières as project coordinator in a number of countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Turkey.
In 2013 I returned to Menorca to settle down on the island with my husband and start a family, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be living here again.
Tell us about the Plastic-Free Menorca project.
Plastic-Free Menorca (Menorca Sense Plàstic) is an initiative promoted by the FPM. After financing various projects to help reduce plastic pollution on the island, we thought it would make sense to create a united front with other organisations working on this – a bigger group that could make a larger impact on the reduction of single-use, non-reusable plastics, as well as ensuring a tighter collaboration between entities with a shared dream. The Plastic-Free Menorca Alliance was born from this idea. It is formed by the Foundation for the Preservation of Menorca, Instituto Menorquín de Estudios, GOB Menorca, Asociación Leader Isla de Menorca and Per la Mar Viva. Our 5 organisations have been working together for over a year to create this line of work, and we have also enjoyed the continued support of Plastic Free Ibiza & Formentera, whose experience we have greatly benefitted from. In this way we make sure we are maximising resources and learning from one another. It’s a totally collaborative initiative and after the first phase, which involved planning and setting objectives, we contacted Marilles to see if they would be interested in joining forces with us. Their support was what finally gave us the necessary resources to launch the alliance and get Marta Pérez on board as project coordinator – she is a specialist in environmental project management.
At the moment, the Alliance has 4 main objectives:
1. Create a certification for small and medium companies on the island which will help them reduce their use of single-use plastics
2. Create a list of shops and local service providers that offer alternatives to non-reusable plastic, making it easier for the public to stop using it
3. Create a guide of alternatives to plastic that can be used as a guide when choosing “good” and “bad” options
4. Become a coordination platform for every initiative in the fight against plastic to ensure we maximise resources, are efficient when taking on projects and don’t duplicate efforts to reduce their use
What do you consider the challenges of the Balearic Sea?
I believe some of our challenges are very clear – problems we know we have to address. I’d say one is marine pollution and another is poaching; as well as the lack, right now, of a sustainable fishing model that allows vulnerable species to recover. We know that nature has the capacity of recovering exponentially when we protect it, and I think there’s still much to do here in Menorca in that field. A better management of MPAs, codes of conduct in sustainable fishing, a society that is aware of these issues and ensures the protection of our sea… and that’s just for starters.
Quick test for sea lovers
A book: Dove – an old book about a 16-year-old boy who goes around the world on a sailing boat. Since I read it, I dream of visiting the Galapagos Islands.
An image: Being surrounded by rocks, sand and posidonia, snorkelling in the Isla del Aire with the clearest of views.
A marine species: Sea turtle – after this summer, it can’t be any other species!
A benchmark organisation or person: Wow, this one is tough, because there are so many…
A beach: Binisafuller
Are you an optimist, a realist or a pessimist? Optimistic, always!
Only 0,16% of the Balearic sea is closed to fishing
Marilles has published research with up-to-date data on marine reserves.
Sandra Benbeniste, director of the Ibiza Preservation Foundation
The Ibiza Preservation Foundation is part of the team of the first Marine Forum.