The primary source of net cuttings in the North Sea is from trawl nets that are being repaired on board fishing vessels at sea and on the quayside in port. Sections of net that have been damaged through regular wear and tear or by accident are cut from the net and discarded, through lack of awareness, habit or carelessness. If they are not removed quickly from the deck of the vessel they can be washed overboard by storms, high winds, waves or rainwater, or swept overboard (by design or accident) when the deck is cleaned. If they are not removed from docks and quaysides they can be carried to the sea by wind or runoff water (storm drains or directly over the edge), or swept into the sea during clean-up activities.
Net cuttings can also fall onto the fishing nets on board and be trapped there, dropping into the sea when the net is rolled up on the boat or rolled out during regular fishing activities. They can also fall into the water when nets are transferred from the quay to the boat or when new nets are taken in use, as waste pieces from manufacturing can become trapped in the netting.
The following best practice recommendations and examples have been compiled primarily from the results of the survey undertaken by KIMO of harbours in four European countries and feedback from face to face dialogue with harbour staff and fishers. They demonstrate some of the most simple, practical and inexpensive ways in which fishers and harbour authorities can reduce the number of net cuttings ending up in the sea and consequently reduce the negative impacts caused by this waste to our marine environment and economy.