The Cartagena Bay was once a region of importance for fisherfolks in the region as well as one of the few ecosystems of Colombia’s Caribbean coast once suitable and appropriate for anadromous fish. Anadromous fish are born in fresh water and spend most of their life in the sea and return to fresh water to spawn. Salmon, smelt, shad, striped bass, and sturgeon are common examples. However, during the past half century, an approximate 60% of the city’s untreated sewage water has been discharged into the Bay. The Bay has also been impacted by industrialization and urbanization. In 2010 the Cartagena Bay region was home to an estimated 900,000 residents; the population is expected to increase by another million by 2020. Population growth has negatively impacted the bay and will continue to place further pressures on the waterway.
Dr. Elizabeth Ramírez is the Waterkeeper and Executive Director at Cartagena Baykeeper. She is an attorney and has served as a professor at the Cartagena campuses of two universities – Fundación Tecnológica Antonio de Arévalo and Universidad Libre. A former judge in Colombia’s judicial system, Dr. Ramírez has a Law Degree from Universidad de Cartagena, and professional certificates in teaching from Universidad Santo Tomás Seccional Bucaramanga and Universidad de Cartagena, and Ph.D. in Judicial Sociology from Universidad Externado de Colombia. In 2009, she filed the first class-action lawsuit against the City of Cartagena for improper and insufficient waste management. As the Cartagena Baykeeper, she works to empower low-income communities along the shores of the estuary Ciénaga de la Virgen with information about water pollution, practical ways to improve sanitation, and advocacy training while partnering with local universities to design strategies to further help these communities.
Urbanización Buenavista, Manzana A
Cartagena, Bolivar 130001