The EU Plastics Strategy mandates EU Member States to ensure that an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme be established so that producers of fishing gear containing plastic will cover the costs of collection of derelict and end-of-life gear that have been delivered to adequate port reception facilities and its subsequent transportation and treatment.
On Tuesday 2nd of July 2019 a workshop was organized by World Animal Protection, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and Waste Free Oceans hosted by the European Commission’s DG MARE. The workshops aim was to gather ideas from stakeholders on addressing abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) in Europe. KIMO was invited to give a talk on Integrated Waste Management, the Dutch Green Deal Approach and Fishing for Litter. KIMO also chaired one of the four break-out sessions on port logistics and monitoring.
Opportunities for Integrated Waste Management
KIMO shared information about its activities and invited the participants to think about port reception facilities management. Examples were given from the Green Deal Fisheries for a Clean Sea. Working inter-sectorally creates shared ownership over an environmental challenge and management meetings offer a forum to share knowledge and create new ideas. One of the successes is integrated waste management: a system which makes it possible for fishermen to dispose of different categories of waste at one place, in one container, which is brought to a single waste handling company. The categories of waste include: fishing nets, dolly rope, household waste and Fishing for Litter waste. All, apart from fishing nets, are put in separate (big) bags before being put into the container. In this way the different categories are not mixed at the processing company whilst keeping the the number of containers in port to a minimum.
The waste management manual developed by KIMO, was shown to workshop participants. In the manual, which is an online tool, fishermen can easily find how to dispose of their waste in all 12 Dutch fishing ports. KIMO invites other countries to follow this example by using the format which we have developed and making the information available via the the Fishing for Litter HUB. The Fishing for Litter HUB is a portal which provides unified information about Fishing for Litter initiatives throughout Europe. Providing information and links to these initiatives, it should eventually develop into a platform for fishermen, ports and authorities to work together to clean the seas and share knowledge. The HUB is a network which will be scaled up and used to implement various aspects of the Port Reception Facilities Directive and Single Use Plastics Directive – not only for passively fished waste, but also for raising awareness in relation to the Single Use Plastics Directive and supporting ports to develop the PRF standards required.
In two break-out sessions of 1 hour with approximately 12 participants ideas are shared on port logistics and monitoring. The sessions were chaired by Jan Joris Midavaine (KIMO) and co-chaired by Ingrid Giskes (GGGI). The questions raised were: What are the main challenges in the context of port logistics and monitoring? What changes need to be made for successful implementation of EPR and recycling? And what further policy interventions or awareness raising measures are required. KIMO added two additional questions: What would be the best way to organize the reception facilities so it is easy for people who work at a port as well as its users? What should be monitored and who is carrying out the monitoring? Below the outcomes of the break-out sessions are summarized.
Logistics and Monitoring
- Successful logistics and monitoring schemes are highly dependent on ‘buy-in’ from those involved (fishermen/harbourmasters)
- Good practice examples: in Norway, end of life fishing gear goes back to the supplier; in Belgian and (some) Dutch ports fishermen are asked to put end-of-life fishing gear in separate boxes
- Fishing nets are not only recovered in ports, but also in aquaculture and at the beach – this is not yet fully addressed in the directive
- The capabilities to change anything concerning logistics and monitoring rest with the fishing sector and at port side; no intervention is needed from the producers
- There was no consensus regarding what should be monitored with some participants favoring quantity of gear collected whereas others favoured adequate fishing net disposal facilities in port
EPR and Recycling
- One of the challenges for recyclers of fishing gear is the use of mixed materials during manufacture, only some of which have value for recycling. An effective EPR scheme has to accept both valuable and ‘non-valuable’ materials
- Since colour separation is essential for recycling, options for when and how to separate different coloured fishing gear have to be explored
- Could leasing rather than buying gear facilitate effective EPR schemes?
- Recycling is a challenge for the producers of fishing gear, not the fishing industry. The fishing industry can help in separation schemes, but recycling is up to the producers. Currently many countries stockpile collected fishing nets
Policy and Awareness
- Framing the issue in a positive way is important. It is better to speak about ‘gear management’ rather than ‘ghost gear’
- Ecological fishing gear design should be a consideration from the outset. This might require that the number/type of polymers is simplified.
- Focus should be on standards rather than throughputs: ensure that separation and sorting takes place rather than monitoring volume
- Sharing good practice and recruiting fishermen ambassadors in each port can accelerate the transition to a circular economy for fishing gear
- Policy recommendations should maintain a clear distinction between aquaculture and fisheries
- Rather than creating financial incentives, create incentives for fishermen that benefit the fishing community as a whole, for example, public infrastructure made from recycled fishing gear
Many thanks to all fellow workshop participants for the valuable input. We look forward to working with fishermen, manufacturers, recyclers and policy makers to make a circular economy for fishing gear a reality.