ASMAA was then formally registered on 3 December 2012 by a group of Expats and Luso-descendents as a private not-for-profit association complying with its statuary aims and objectives. ASMAA has a very strong focus on "environmental protection", with a special emphasis on protecting the oceans surrounding the Portuguese coastal regions. But you can read more about our objectives by cliking here. (In Portuguese)
Although we endeavour to keep this website with up-to-date info, the fact is that its not always possible. As a result we invite you to join our Facebook Group page which is where you will find all the lastest info about what we are up to, and about info relating to areas of interest, about events, and info about the various causes that ASMAA cares about. Click here to join our Facebook Group.
2018 was a watershed year for ASMAA as we progressed through the transformation process that started in 2017.
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 Accessments 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 sdupport 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 primarely as a soft goods, clothes and brick-a-brack 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 shopfit 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 colaboration 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
Many times in the past few years we were tempted to throw in the towel, but somehow we carried on. But 2017 was a very important year in ASMAA’s history. It was a landmark of events some expected, some planned and some unforeseen. But all in all we can honestly say that 2017 was the beginning of a transition that was already in the planning table and which was very welcome and for which we are deeply grateful.
We started 2017 heavily involved in the anti-oil “Nem Um Furo” campaign, February saw us at the Portuguese Parliament, but it still took until December 21st – 4 days before Christmas for the government to simply wipe 42,000 objections under the rug in a couple of minutes.
Then from the middle of the year until October we were confronted with major fires in the center of Portugal. First in Pedrogrão where we have many friends and later in Oliveira do Hospital, Arganyl, etc.
We could not just sit back as if nothing had happened to people that lost their homes, their livelihoods and some even their lives. We jumped into action and managed to set-up a weekly convoy of donated goods (clothing, furniture, etc), food, toiletries and even animal feeds. But the response was so overwhelming that we found our offices overflowing without a spare cm to spare. That led to us renting a warehouse as it was stopping us operating at our head office in Lagos, that quickly grew to two before the year-end. But we soon realized that it was still a logistical nightmare to manage and that we needed additional facilities. At the end of November we identified another suitable premises in Portimão with 500 m2, and we initiated negations with the owners.
During 2017, in addition to above situations there were many other administrative and managerial changes as well. A new board was elected in the last week in September bringing invaluable new skills, competencies and wisdom into our association. And we started the process of planning many other changes to be implemented during the course of 2018.
Our volunteers network grew by 40%, while the external support for the association grew by more than 100%. ASMAA now enjoys a following of more than 60,000 people spread throughout the world and with whom we maintain regular contact.
The bottom line is that 2017 was an extreme year of change; it was also the end of a start-up cycle with many hick-ups along the way, but we are grateful that towards the last quarter, we saw the beginning of an uplifting cycle, which we are hopeful, will carry on until 2022.
ASMAA management team thanks all our members, volunteers, donors and supporters that have carried us in the past five years and more especially during the year of 2017
During 2016 the major focus of the association was its campaign against offshore and onshore oil and gas drilling, including alerting local population against the risks of fracking especially due to the new contracts signed just before the results of the 2015 local elections. ASMAA continued with the anti oil drilling campaign "Nem UM Furo" (Not ONE Well) ... It was also the year during which in reply to a publico consultation about a TUPEM licence applied for by the ENI/Galp consortium, a petition subscribed by over 27,000 people was submitted to the Portuguese government and the DGRM in Lisbon, as well as 42,000 objections to the TUPEM were lodged with the DGRM in Lisbon against 4 in favor submissions.
During 2016 basic assistance was also given to various informal volunteer groups run mainly by Expats supporting a soup kitchen in Lagos as well as the Network for Families in Need across the western and central Algarve.
The economic challenges brought by the Troika have been severally felt in the association as well as across the territory. The political climate has not helped, nor do we expect it to be any better in 2017.
Many information events about the various risks were run during the course of the year. Much of the activities are reported in this website.
This was a crossroads year. Serious lack of operational funds led to the management team in the beginning of the year, giving serious consideration to the closure of the association and to cease operations. Subsequent meetings in which the continuous and fast approaching threat of offshore oil and gas exploration was intensely debated, a decision was made to continue with operations, and for the founders to finance the continuation thereof so that it could meet its financial obligations. It was agreed by the board to reassess the position of the association again later in the year.
The publication of the offshore oil and gas concession contracts in July, and then the subsequent publication of the newly signed onshore contracts in September by ENMC led the board to realise that there was sufficient merit, and a strong ethical based reason to continue. In turn this resulted in a decision by management to restructure ASMAA in the last quarter of the year, which is to be implemented in first quarter of 2016.
During 2015, ASMAA facilitated many disclosure workshops across the Algarve and participated in various public debates about the issue. In total ASMAA was present in more than 20 events during the course of the year. The reach of the anti-oil exploration campaign extended across Portugal main land, with a special focus on the regions of Porto and Lisbon.
In December 2015, ASMAA launched the "Nem UM Furo ... Nem Agora Nem no Futuro ... Nem na Terra Nem no Mar" anti offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration campaign which integrates all the previous campaigns and adds on to it an anti-Fracking perspecive as well.
The primary focus during 2014 was the "Oilgarve" and the "Say NO to Oil in Algarve" campaigns once the legislative framework for surf schools licensing was finalised.
Extensive research was done during the year, and many awareness raising community workshops about the threat of offshore oil and gas exploration were run across the Algarve. Parallel to it, the focus continued to be on building international partnerships.
The first official operational year strategy was on developing brand visibility, reputation and mass membership as a foundation for the organisation. This resulted in that the focus was less on generating "funds" and more on positioning.
Funding campaigns were targeted specifically at specific initiatives such as the "Bar Matter in Lagos", the "Oilgarve - Say No to Oil and Gas in the Algarve Campaign" and on addressing the legislative framework of surf school beach licensing process, including the licensing selection protocols and framework.
During 2013, ASMAA gained major visibility in the local communities of the Algarve and extensive visibility on the Internet.
The first year, from April until the official registration of the association in December was spent on strategy and planning. Strong focus was given to the upcoming threat of offshore oil and gas exploration in the Algarve, and extensive research was conducted on this issue.
The year was also focused on the challenges facing many surf schools in the Algarve because of outdated licensing regulations and the increase harassement of many surf schools on local beaches.