Running a Fishing for Litter scheme in a far-flung corner of the globe is not without its challenges, especially when your municipality is small and does not have the financial clout of some of the bigger port cities. Not to be deterred, a dedicated group of volunteers are working together to not only restart Fishing for Litter in the Faroe Islands but to do so at a remarkably cost-effective rate – free!
Speaking to Sveiney Sverrisdóttir, the local KIMO coordinator, she is upbeat about the project and heartened by the way the local community has pulled together to make it work. Sveiney explains:
Our plan is that the Fishing for Litter project will be voluntary. This is mainly because our organisation is a small one and we have to rely on local people to help with the work.
The level of support for the project at each step of the process is phenomenal. The inter-municipal waste management company has committed to collect the Fishing for Litter waste free of charge. The municipality which is in charge of the harbour facilities has agreed to store the litter until it has been categorised and collected. The fishing company and boat owners are equally committed to making the scheme work.
The four ships involved are small trawlers. When the trawlers land their Fishing for Litter waste, they contact the next volunteers in the chain, who weigh and categorize the litter and send the results to Sveiney. This is an important step in any Fishing for Litter scheme as it allows the organisers keep track of the volumes of marine litter removed from the ocean. The waste management company then collects the litter as part of their regular routine.
Sveiney shares some of the preliminary results:
We started this spring with the trawlers fishing in territorial waters, and have had 2 bags so far (the bag is delivered when full). The weight of the bags is 35 kg and 60 kg respectively with and a total of 324 items. The portion of plastic/polystyrene is largest, making up 95% of the litter collected.
A pilot Fishing for Litter scheme ran in Faroe during the spring of 2008. The results from this pilot scheme offer an interesting point of comparison with one ship having delivered litter from five voyages – a total of three bags containing 164 items. 89% of the litter was plastic/polystyrene while the rest was divided between the other categories. The sample size is small but the preliminary results mirror the wider trend of increasing levels of ocean plastic seen throughout northern seas.
Well done to all the volunteers who have made this scheme a success thus far – long may it continue! As long as we continue to have ordinary people devoting their own time and effort towards protecting our oceans, there is still hope. We can all make a difference.