Fishermen to bring plastic from ship to shore for marine litter project

Funding for on-board storage facilities for waste caught in nets and on-shore disposal

Minister for the Marine Micheal Creed launches Clean Oceans Initiative and  sets target for 100 per cent of Irish trawlers to recover plastic waste from the oceans on every fishing trip .Photograph: Julien Behal.

Minister for the Marine Micheal Creed launches Clean Oceans Initiative and sets target for 100 per cent of Irish trawlers to recover plastic waste from the oceans on every fishing trip .Photograph: Julien Behal.

 

Fisherman in West Cork who daily encounter food packaging, oil drums and plastic in the water, have vowed to embrace a marine litter scheme.

As part of the Clean Oceans Initiative fishermen are being asked to bring litter they find in their nets back to shore where there will be facilities to safely dispose of the waste.

Fisherman Zeik Tuit who lives in Skibbereen says the majority of fishermen are willing to get on board with the effort because it is “common sense” which serves the greater good.

He has seen first hand the problems caused by the presence of plastics at sea.

“Occasionally you see sea gulls or whatever with plastics around their throat. You would also occasionally see plastic ingested in the belly of a fish. That is obviously something we would like to see reduced. This is a step in the right direction.”

Local fisherman Ronan Sheehy says on a daily basis at sea they encounter wast.

“It is good now that we know it is going to be handled properly at shore and taken care of. We have always done it but we didn’t always have the confidence in the past bringing it onshore that it was going to be looked after.

Now we have the confidence that we will get our bags from BIM, fill them up with what we are seeing in the nets and that it is going to be handled properly at shore.”

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed launched the project in Union Hall on Friday and hopes to bring it to all trawlers by the end of the year .

He said fishermen are aware that it is in their own interest to have a healthy marine environment.

“Plastics are the biggest challenge we face locally, nationally and globally. BIM (Bord Iascaigh Mhara ) will be leading this endeavour. It will be a demand led initiative. We hope by the end of 2019 to have all of the industry participating.

These people are out on the high seas every day trawling and catching marine litter so rather then leaving that to degrade, why not bring it in?”

Funding has been made available under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to provide on-board storage facilities and on-shore infrastructure for environmentally friendly disposal of all plastics, waste and ghost fishing gear, recovered at sea.

The on-shore infrastructure will also be available to fishermen and aquaculture operators to enable them to dispose of unwanted fishing gear and other items with a plastics content.

The scheme also involves recycling end of life fishing nets. BIM is using a new vehicle to shred the nets so they can be pelletised and recycled in to fishing boxes.

Union Hall is one of twelve ports and fishery harbour centres in Ireland currently taking part in the new initiative. It is hoped the project will be fully operational nationwide by next year.

Up to 80 per cent of marine debris is made up of plastics with an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic being dumped in to the world’s oceans every year.

Total World production of plastics reached 335 million metric tons in 2016.