If the sea dies, we die.

If the sea dies, we die.
FIsherman and dead mermaids. Photo: Daniel Jorge Da Ponte Lopes (@danielpontelopes)

With their last breath, three Mermaids handed me a letter. Dressed in fisherman’s attire, I delivered it to a representative of the Portuguese Environment Ministry, demanding an urgent meeting on ocean protection. (Video)

Outside the Ministry gates, a journalist awaited my comment on the drama.

The following is a translation of that interview for the pro-european, national paper, O Público.

Three police watch over the dead mermaids. Photo: @danielpontelopes

Ocean Rebellion took three mermaids to the ministry to say: "the sea is dying"

The environmental action movement Ocean Rebellion delivered a letter to the Environment Ministry on Tuesday to demand a meeting on water and ocean protection in Portugal, warning that the "sea is dying".

"June was the hottest ever (...) and so we demand a meeting to talk about the next steps to save our sea. If the sea dies, we die," said spokesperson and co-founder of the "sister group" Extinction Rebellion, Robin Boardman, at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action in Lisbon.

The Ocean Rebellion action, which featured three women dressed as mermaids lying on marine litter, comes at a time when some parts of the world are facing extreme heatwaves, such as in the Gulf of Texas in the US, where thousands of fish have died because of warming waters.

Tens of thousands of dead fish washed up on Texas' shores

"We have three demands for the ministry. The first is that (...) tell the truth about the situation of the oceans, because the fish are suffering, the sea is suffering, dying. The second is for the government to clamp down on emissions from ships, cruises and fishing boats. [We also] want a new democratic system to achieve these changes," emphasised Robin Boardman.

According to the British campaigner, the government "does not think long-term", emphasising that a citizens' assembly of experts should be set up to solve the water crisis.

"Blue creates green. The environmental movement is usually known as green (...), but without blue, without water, we don't have green. [Blue] is the base. We want them to tell the truth about it," he said.

Robin Boardman stressed that he hopes to get a "good meeting" with the Ministry of the Environment on Climate Action, warning that if there is no response in the coming weeks, Ocean Rebellion will carry out further actions, but nonviolently.

"If they don't give a date in the next few weeks, we will escalate the action with performances to say we are here, we want to talk. We are here like [Mahatma] Gandhi, with non-violent disobedience," he said.

A dead mermaid lies ontop of an Ocean Rebellion flag. Photo: Robin Boardman

"We don't want conflict, we want to create a movement for transition and solution together. If they don't answer us, we will escalate," he added.

On what the new Ocean Rebellion actions will look like, Robin Boardman indicated that the group of activists may be larger.

"We have a plan to scale up these actions. In the future, there will be more mermaids and they will not be on the street, but in front of the ministry's door," he said.


Thanks for reading! Please do share with Ocean-minded and Portuguese friends. If you liked this article, please subscribe for more and donate to support my work.

“God wanted the Earth to be all one. That the sea unites, no longer separates.”
– Fernando Pessoa

Photo: @danielpontelopes