European Fisherman and WFO Pledge to Eliminate Marine Litter

News

Europêche, the body representing 80,000 European fishermen, has teamed up with environmental group, Waste Free Oceans (WFO) to help combat the growing issue of marine litter.

At a meeting between
the two organisations held this week in Brussels, Europêche pledged to work
with its member organisations to raise awareness of the issue and encourage
fishermen across Europe to get involved in clean up initiatives.

Across Europe, fishermen
have taken part in initiatives such as the ‘Fishing for Litter’ scheme in the
UK and the Isla Verde project in Spain which aim to keep the oceans as litter
and pollutant-free as possible. These initiatives have seen fishermen
collecting and disposing of their waste including plastics, ropes and fishing
nets when back on land as well as participating in cleanup efforts in
particularly badly affected areas.

The
pledge comes in the same week as new research, published by the University of
Georgia, USA, revealed that about eight million tonnes of plastic waste are
dumped in the world’s oceans each year which if left uncontrolled, will amount
a total of 155 million tonnes entering the oceans by the year 2025.

Europêche, which represents both
small and large scale fishing vessels from nine European countries, says the
aim of the partnership is to encourage fishermen
and the plastics industry to work together to prevent marine littering and
proactively clear plastics in the ocean.

President of Europêche, Javier Garat, said:
“We welcome this partnership to raise awareness of the issue and what
fishermen themselves can do to help. It will also allow fishermen to assist
research into better tracing of marine litter. Whilst we are aiming to help
prevent waste ending up in our oceans in the first place, our fishermen can
positively contribute to the clean up effort towards more environmentally
friendly European waters.”

Under the general
framework of promoting sustainable fishing activities, funding may become
available from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to support
fishermen taking part in projects contributing to the preservation of oceans.

There
are many factors which have contributed to a rise in marine litter over the
last 20 years including a significant rise in plastic production, poor waste
management practices in ports and marinas and general public attitudes towards
littering.

An
increase in marine litter would have major implications for both human health
and marine ecosystems. Problems caused by marine litter can include
entanglement, ingestion or transport of invasive species, all of which are
harmful to fish stocks.

Europêche has
pledged its committed to supporting these actions and believes all fishermen
should be informed of the significant role they can play in not only taking
precautions against littering but also actively engaging in projects to
proactively protect the environment.