Conservación ConCiencia’s efforts to remove derelict fishing gear from Puerto Rico’s coasts and ocean were featured in a July 2020 episode of Netflix’s new show Down to Earth with Zac Efron. The series features unique destinations around the world and highlights sustainable ways that local people in those communities are advancing sustainability. While showing the lasting devastation that Hurricanes Irma and Maria initially left on the island in 2017, the show’s hosts highlighted efforts to make the island more resilient to future storms through sustainability on the local level and caught up with Conservación ConCiencia project manager, Raimundo Espinoza.

Project manager, Raimundo Espinoza holds up derelict fishing gear removed from Puerto Rico’s coasts.
Photo Credit: Raimundo Espinoza, Conservación ConCiencia

Conservación ConCiencia has been working in Puerto Rico on shark research and conservation, fisheries management, ocean pollution issues, and with local fishermen since 2016. After Hurricane Maria, Raimundo and his team have been working to remove derelict fishing gear.  

“After hurricanes Irma and Maria, a lot of gear was lost in the water, or swept back to sea from the shore,” says Espinoza. “Fishing gear is meant to catch fish and when it’s lost or abandoned, derelict fishing gear continues serving its purpose without any benefits to anyone or control which makes this the most harmful marine debris in the world to marine biodiversity which is why as a last resort we’re locating and removing it.”

Derelict fishing gear and lobster traps removed from Puerto Rico’s coasts.
Photo Credit: Raimundo Espinoza, Conservación ConCiencia

“The main fishing gear we’ve removed has been fish and lobster traps, and through this project we have uncovered that illegal trap fishing is a major problem in Puerto Rico; of the 60,000lbs removed to date 65% of the derelict fishing traps removed do not follow Puerto Rico fishing trap regulations.”

Learn more about Conservación ConCiencia’s important work by visiting their project page or check out their feature on Episode 6 of Down to Earth with Zac Efron.

About Conservación ConCiencia

Conservación ConCiencia is a non-profit organization in Puerto Rico dedicated to environmental research and conservation that aims to promote sustainable development by working collaboratively with communities, governments, academia and the private sector. Conservación ConCiencia is born of the need to address environmental issues in a multifaceted manner utilizing an interdisciplinary toolbox that integrates life sciences, societal welfare and economic security into a problem-solving approach. Their Mission is to implement effective, science-based conservation actions that move our societies towards sustainability. Conservación ConCiencia focuses on projects in Puerto Rico and Cuba, including the following: 

  • Creating Puerto Rico’s first shark research and conservation program in collaboration with the seafood industry.
  • Analyzing parrotfish supply chain and its market in Puerto Rico.
  • Promoting commercial fisheries exchange between Puerto Rico and Cuba with lessons learned from successful fisheries management and promoting Cuban fishers access to local markets for entrepreneurial opportunities.

Conservación ConCiencia, in collaboration with The Ocean Foundation, is working toward our shared goal of reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world and protecting species of concern.

About The Ocean Foundation

The Ocean Foundation is the only community foundation for the ocean, with a mission to support, strengthen, and promote those organizations dedicated to reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world. The Ocean Foundation’s International Ocean Acidification Initiative, Blue Resilience Initiative, Redesigning Plastic Initiative, and 71% work to equip communities that depend on the ocean’s health with resources and knowledge for policy advising and for increasing capacity for mitigation, monitoring, and adaptation strategies.

contact information

Conservación ConCiencia
Raimundo Espinoza
Project Manager
E: [email protected]

The Ocean Foundation
Jason Donofrio
External Relations Officer
P: +1 (602) 820-1913
E: [email protected]