Sailor, lover of the sea and fierce believer that our children have the right to inherit the world, Miguel Lacerda has taken it upon himself to clean-up the most dangerous parts of Portugal’s coastline: the cliffs.
Every week, carrying a large bag to collect marine litter, the 62-year-old from Cascais climbs up and down 140-metre high escarpments that are “only reachable by trekking along tough paths and by carefully climbing down slippery rocks – sometimes using a rope”.
Featured by Reuters news agency and other publications last month, Lacerda collected 30,000 litres of rubbish in just one year – some of it having bobbed its way across the Atlantic from Florida.
Said Reuters, “most of it comes from the fishing and shipping industries, including equipment used in lobster fishing in the United States and Canada”.
This week Lacerda has forsaken the cliffs for the craggy coastline of the westernmost island of Azores, to raise awareness for his brand of environmental action.
Followers over social media are keen to duplicate his example, with friends back in the Algarve saying they plan to clean up the cliffs between Lagos and Sagres.
Talking to Reuters in May, Lacerda stressed that “Everybody goes on beach clean-ups but the cliffs are where no one wants to go”.
A keen diver, as well as sailor, he says that “every time I dive, anywhere in the world, I always find trash”.
It was a trip to Antarctica in 2010 that inspired him to start collecting rubbish washed up on the cliffs near Lisbon, and since then the initiative has just grown.
On Friday, he’ll be giving a talk on his mission on the island of Flores, and then it’ll be somewhere else, with someone else’s rubbish awaiting.
Lacerda admits the task is scary “If in a little more than 3kms one can remove 30,000 litres of rubbish in just one year, imagine what is spread over the ocean, rivers and coastlines of all the continents and islands…”