More than fifteen years after the launch of the first Fishing for Litter scheme, a new website is part of a plan to unite projects from all over Europe.
Since being endorsed by the Regional Seas Convention for the North East Atlantic (OSPAR), Fishing for Litter schemes have been set up in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Greece and beyond. Meanwhile, KIMO members continue to coordinate the projects in Scotland and south west England and the Netherlands.
Government agencies, environmental NGOs and industry associations have signed up to follow KIMO’s guidelines when running their projects. Projects agreeing to following these guidelines are welcome to use the familiar brand and logo, owned by KIMO International.
This open-source approach has helped the scheme spread quickly all over Europe, resulting in less marine litter and cleaner beaches in at least ten countries.
However, this approach means there is no central contact point for, or source of, information on Fishing for Litter as a whole.
The updated Fishing for Litter website is designed to provide a ‘shop window’ for the various projects. KIMO International hopes it will form the heart of new network of projects, which acts as a forum for exchanging ideas and experiences between project coordinators.
KIMO International conducted a survey and held a meeting to consult with project coordinators ahead of the launch.
Sixteen projects across ten countries shared their views. An impressive 100% of respondents agreed that more international cooperation would benefit their project.
Jan Joris Midavaine, who coordinates the Dutch Fishing for Litter project for KIMO Netherlands and Belgium said:
“Sharing best practice and learning from colleagues about how they have faced challenges in their projects is really useful. We are sure that this new cooperation will bring benefits to everyone involved.”
On the one hand, Fishing for Litter is a simple concept. Projects provide large, hard-wearing bags to boats, which volunteer to participate in the scheme. Fishermen continue to work as usual, but they bring any waste caught alongside the catch back to port. The project covers the costs of collection and disposal and demonstrates the fishing industry’s commitment to a healthy environment.
However, the survey of project coordinators has already revealed common challenges faced all over Europe.
Many organisations want to expand their projects to more boats or more harbours. And the EU’s Port Reception Facilities Directive will have a major impact on the provision of facilities.
At the same time, ensuring funding for project remains a challenge for some. For example, the Fishing for Litter projects in Scotland and South West England are at risk due to the end of EU funding following Brexit.
Meanwhile, almost everyone is keen to improve the processing of waste returned to port, so that more of it can be upcycled or recycled, rather than being sent to landfill or incineration.
This post first appeared on KIMOinternational.org. KIMO is a network of local governments, working together for healthy seas, cleaner beaches, and thriving coastal communities. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and sign up for our email updates.