It is estimated that between 640,000 and 800,000 tonnes of mfishing gear is lost worldwide annually and may remain in oceans for up to 600 years. This may well account for over 10% of all the
marine litter and up to 70% of the macro-marine litter in our oceans, estimated in terms of weight.
The loss or discarding of fishing gear can have particularly damaging impacts on the sea. This gear produces the effect known as “ghost fishing”, where nets continue to fish and trap animals, can kill marine life, suffocate habitats and represent as a hazard for maritime traffic.
Discarded fishing gear, such as nets and pots, is one of the main types of marine litter affecting oceans today. The objective of the OCEANETS project is to ensure the viability of a circular economy model through the optimisation of recovery and recycling technologies for certain types of fishing gear and, through the development of an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) tool, to reduce losses, tangling and breakages of fishing nets.
This will be achieved through the demonstration and validation of technologies and high-added value products. These products will be obtained in a technically and economically feasible manner and with an environmentally sustainable value chain. The OCEANETS project is, therefore, based on an approach that focuses on the reduction, control and recycling of fishing gear waste with improvements on the conventional management of this type of waste:
• Extension of the fishing gear service life by preventing losses in the marine environment as a result of entanglement. This is to be achieved through the development of an online, updatable ICT tool to register and facilitate geolocation of areas of potential risk in terms of fishing gear loss.
• Raising of awareness and promotion of the involvement of the fisheries sector in solutions to the problem of marine debris in general, and the discarding and loss of fishing gear in particular.
• Reducing the disposal of this waste stream means reducing the concentration of marine litter in the environment, thereby reducing the consequent ecological impact and the loss of valuable resources.
• Increasing recycling rates for end-of-life fishing gear, through the development and validation of a recycling technology that will enable the recovery of material for use in the high-quality textile industry or in secondary applications.
• Creation of an opening in the high-quality textile sector market for products based on recycled materials, specifically materials obtained from recycled fishing gear.
Published in: Nº66 FuturENVIRO December 2019 / January 2020