Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) recently hosted an event in Cork that brought together members of the Irish fishing sector, to dicsuss and exchange ideas on the creation of a circular economy for fishing gear.

Participants included harbour masters, net producers, and representatives from recycling companies and government officials. A ket topic of discussion was the idea of a new business model that would consider the full life cycle of fishing gear, in a bid to reduce its impact on the marine environment.

More than forty representatives attended the event held in the Clayton, Little Island in Cork city. Wholeearth Futures, specialists in circular business model planning, and BDO, facilitated the day long session that included representatives from commercial organisations including Leinster Environmentals, Green Marine and Kingspan who have committed to using secondary plastics in a drive to lower their carbon footprint.

The event was supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, and marks a first for the industry, forming part of a wider set of actions being taken by the State seafood development agency under the Clean Oceans Initiative to tackle the growing problem of marine waste.

Alena Petrikovicova, DG Mare, EU Commission, was one of several speakers at the workshop. Two new EU Directives, The Impact of Certain Plastic Products on Environment Directive and The Port Reception Facilities Directive, focus on the use and management of plastic waste.

Catherine Morrison, Sustainability and Certification Manager, BIM said: “The Clean Oceans Initiative is based on the premise that collaboration between the people on the ground; the men and women who work in the fishing sector and in the wider seafood and other industries, can effect change much faster by working together under a single shared vision. Partnerships are vital if we are to address the challenge of marine waste.”

Catherine Barrett, BIM, said: “We want to look at the entire life-cycle of fishing gear. A 360° view that considers its purchase, use, ‘retiring’ and, of course how it is recycled. This collective multi-industry focus will help us innovate and develop better end-of-use systems for gear such as nets to impact positively on the environment and on the economy.”

To date, BIM has collected more than 600 tonnes of old or damaged fishing nets for recycling.

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