Marine conservation in Portugal
Join an eco-dive school in their mission to clean up the ocean around Lisbon. Enjoy daily dives to clear the reefs of fishing gear, debris and plastics in an effort to help the marine ecosystem to flourish. Not only will you be making a great contribution to improving our environment, you will also be able to dive in an area of the world that is still relatively undiscovered.
Every year, marine debris kills more than 130,000 seals, whales and dolphins – and mutilates thousands of other animals. The main culprit is known as ghost gear – in other words, fishing gear that has been lost over the sides of fishing vessels. Globally, 640,000 tonnes of ghost gear is left in our oceans each year – and since most of this fishing gear is made of plastic, it can take up to 600 years to degrade.
This project is doing its bit by encouraging divers to dive responsibly. Volunteers join an eco-dive school, whose passionate staff take their boat out every day to improve the marine environment. Divers help to remove fishing gear, plastics, tyres and even mobile phones or mini fridges from the sea. This is a facinating way to learn about humanity’s impact on the planet, and do something to reverse it.
To date, almost 3000kg of rubbish has been removed by volunteers. As a result of these efforts, there has been a noticeable improvement in marine life in areas that have been cleared so far.
What will I be doing?
The project is based in a fishing town about 30 minutes by train from Lisbon. Joining a local eco-dive school, you will complete daily dives to retrieve debris from the ocean. Each day you will visit different dive sites, generally 15 – 30 minutes away from the harbour. Dives can last anywhere from 20 – 50 minutes depending on the depth and the complexity of the mission. You may dive up to 20 metres, although most dives are about 12 – 15 metres in depth.
Tasks on this project may include, but are not limited to:
- enjoy experiencing the Portuguese diving opportuntities and the amazing underwater world
- collect debris from the ocean
- learn about the marine environment and how you can protect it
- recycle any debris that has been collected – and return any usable fishing gear to fishermen
- work with the local community to educate them on environmental issues, conservation and the importance of taking care of our oceans
- work closely with local fishermen to reduce the amount of ghost gear in the ocean
- weigh the collected rubbish and document what has been retrieved
- improve your diving skills with further training and certification
Please note, the weather impacts this project quite considerably, so plans might change at the last minute.
What diving experience do I need?
Divers of all abilities are welcomed – whether you need to learn to dive or whether you have done some diving before. Relevant tuition and guidance will be offered to all abilities and all diving equipment is provided.
Depending on the amount of time that you spend on the project, you may be able to gain extra diving qualifications whilst participating in the project. Follow the link to find out more about the extra diving certifications you could receive.
Accommodation and food
- Stay in a volunteer house in the leafy suburbs of Lisbon, 20 – 30 minutes from the centre
- The eco-house prides itself on being one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in Lisbon – single use plastics are kept to a minimum, food waste is composted or shared with those in need, furniture is built from recycled goods.
- Share a room with 3 – 9 other volunteers
- Three meals per day are provided, catering for all dietary requirements
- There is a large patio where volunteers can enjoy free yoga and exercise classes, or simply relax after a busy day
- There is a living room with books, TV and wifi
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Improve your diving and gain further diving qualifications
- Contribute towards solving a very real problem
- Work with a great team of expert divers
- Stunning beaches, amazing food, ancient monasteries and towns – need we say more?
- Meet likeminded people – some may become friends for life!
Whyshould I do this?
Did you know that it is forecasted that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish? On this project you will help to clear ghost gear and other man-made rubbish from the sea, helping to reduce the amount of waste found in our oceans. This will help the sea life to flourish, and this has already been experienced on this project.
This project is a must for anyone wanting to gain marine conservation experience or to do something different with their holidays. Whether you are taking a gap year, enjoying a holiday with a difference or taking some time out of your studies, this is a great project for people who are passionate about our world.
Not only is this project making a valuable contribution, it is training divers to a very high standard. You will leave Portugal having received expert diving tuition, having done something important and having met some amazing people.
Fly into Lisbon (LIS) on your arrival Sunday. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to the accommodation.
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated time with your Destination Manager to discuss the project, ask any questions that you might have and tell us more about yourself
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Pre-departure briefing
- Advice on visa requirements
- Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst away
- Airport collection and transfer to your accommodation
- Three meals per day
- 2 hour guided tour of Lisbon
- Diving equipment, certifications and instruction
- Shared volunteer accommodation in an eco-house
- Linen and towels
- Oyster will prepare you thoroughly before you leave and support you while you are out there
- ATOL financial protection (if Oyster books your flight); IPP financial protection if we do not book your flight
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A full passport valid for the duration of your stay
- Flights to Lisbon (Oyster can help you to organise these)
- Insurance covering your project time and any planned independent travel, we can introduce you to a policy
- Transport to your project (budget 5 euros per day)
- Independent travel costs and return to the airport
- Any additional costs such as trips, snacks, entertainment (allow maybe £50 per week depending on lifestyle)