"2018 was a watershed year for ASMAA as we progressed through the transformation process that started in 2017," writes Laurinda Seabra from the Association.
Anti-Oil Drilling Campaigns: as we have done since the creation of ASMAA, our primary focus continued to be the “Nem UM Furo” anti-oil drilling national campaign.
Multiple actions took place right throughout the year across Portugal. During the year many updating and feedback sessions where run in Alentejo, Algarve and Central Portugal.
We participated in various public consultations on the need of Environmental Impact Assessments covering proposed deep offshore oil exploration by Galp/ENI consortium, and onshore (fracking) by Australis Oil & Gas, as well as commenting as part of public consultations on proposals set-out by government for the promotion of the "Blue Economy".
We lodged two legal actions in the Loulé Administrative and Fiscal court, and we successfully recruited and appointed internationally recognized experts as technical witnesses for our legal cases.
During the year we successfully extended our anti-oil campaign in the Algarve to various council areas included in the Pombal and Batalha concession areas in the center of Portugal. ASMAA became more involved in the target areas of Bajouca in the Pombal concession area, and in Aljubarrota in the Batalha concession.
On April 6, 2018, ASMAA filed with the Administrative and Fiscal Tribunal of Loulé (TAF) a class action to request the cancellation of oil contracts in the Alentejo Basin, alleging the breach of various contractual and administrative procedures, and process illegalities. Also on August 14, 2018, ASMAA challenged in the TAF of Loulé the decision of the National Entidade Mercados Combustíveis (ENMC) of January 9, as well as the opinion of the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) of May 16, 2018 regarding the lack of requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be conducted by the ENI / Galp consortium.
During the legal process we were honored to receive the direct endorsement for our class action against the government, government departments and the consortium Galp/ENI by nearly 700 individuals, some associations and the Odemira local council. All support endorsements were submitted directly to the Loulé Court. We also received support from the Terras do Infante Association (Lagos, Vila do Bispo and Aljezur municipalities) with a 5,000€ pledge towards legal costs, of which 2,500€ has already been gratefully received.
The legal battle is continuing into 2019, with a court date of 11 February set for a preliminary hearing.
As part of our fund-raising and awareness campaigns during the year, we were fortunate to be invited to Tojeiro’s Friday´s Happiness events for 4 months in the summer (June to September). This opportunity turned into a very successful fund-raising and awareness rising project, as not only did we raise over 5,000€ during that time in donations, but we also managed to expose thousands of visitors week after week to our “Nem UM Furo” campaign, thus helping to raise a few more thousand signatures for our petition to the EU.
Social Sustainability Projects
In January 2018 we laid the first foundation stones to ensure the long-term economic self-sustainability for our various social projects. In January we reduced our warehouses in Barão de São João from two to one, and moved all soft goods to the shop in Portimão, while maintaining furniture and white goods at the one warehouse.
The Portimão shop was used primarily as a soft goods, clothes and bric-a-brac warehouse. A few sales were made which assisted in covering some of the running costs of our social division. During the year we went into major expense to shop-fit the ground floor of our association's shop in Portimão, as well as organizing and shopfit all the rooms in the cave area of the shop to ensure that all the appropriate sorting and storage facilities where in place by year end.
As we progressed with the work at the shop in Portimão, we soon realized that our initial intention had to be changed, due primarily to the amazing support that our social programs received from people across the Algarve. Our strategy for the shop and warehouse paid-off when we were once again faced with a major fire disaster, this time in Monchique and Silves areas, which resulted in ASMAA being able to very quickly address immediate needs of fire displaced individuals and families. The shop also assisted us in supporting various families in need across the Algarve in collaboration with other grass root groups.
Reaching our Supports and other interested parties
Over the year we published 282 articles in our website, did 42 updating & fund raising broadcasts to our database of supporters, and shared over 2000 posts on our pages on Facebook; more than 400 posts both on Twitter and Google plus. Our supporters database grew to over 75,000 individuals spread throughout the world. We experienced a massive growth in supporters and followers within the Portuguese community across the country - from north of Portugal, to the Algarve, including from Madeira and Açores.
Our volunteer pool increased by 24% during the year. Our permanent volunteers donated 8,640 volunteering hours during the year, and other temporary volunteers donated 850 hours of their time during the course of the year. Making it a total of 9490 hours.
Administrative & Managerial
During 2018, in addition to above situations there were many other administrative and managerial changes as well, mainly as a result of new developments in our social projects.
In November a valuable board member resigned for personal reasons - having lost her home to fire - and as result of all her personal changes, she felt that she would not be able to give the association the support needed by the association. This resignation coupled with an expansion of our social division will result in some major changes early in 2019.
On the financial side, ASMAA managed to increase our income for the year by more than 100%. This meant that we could meet most of our financial obligations month after month, although we faced an unexpected increase in our legal costs (mainly as a result of heavily contested legal actions by the defending parties), which resulted in ASMAA closing the year with a legal debt of +- 6,000€ being carried into 2019.
In closing ...
The bottom line is that there was no oil drilling anywhere in Portugal during 2018 - a victory for planet and humanity. On the social side, we assisted 18 families directly in the Monchique area, and hundreds more during the heat of the fire which lasted for more that 7 days. During 2018, we also firmed informal collaboration programs with other grass route social movements and associations in the Algarve and in the center of Portugal. Through some of them many families in need in Algarve were assisted.
ASMAA management team thanks all our members, volunteers, donors and supporters that have carried us in the past and more especially during the year of 2018.