New pilot scheme will collect old fishing gear to reduce waste in Irish seas

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WE MIGHT THINK that ocean litter is trash like plastic bags and bottles, but litter from the fishing industry can also have a huge impact on marine life.

So, as part of efforts to keep Ireland’s seas clean, a new pilot scheme is to be launched with the aim of reducing the amount of old fishing gear dumped in the ocean.

Starting in the fall, anglers will be able to dispose of old and damaged fishing gear as part of a new pilot program to reduce ocean litter.

The announcement was made by Minister Charlie McConalogue to coincide with World Oceans Day.

The Clean Oceans Initiative’s fishing gear removal program is being piloted in Rossaveal, County Galway, later this year. Anglers in the Rossaveal fleet are welcome to dispose of their old and damaged gear as part of a free drop-off service at the pier. Fishing gear will then be upcycled, recycled or disposed of responsibly.

The pilot project is led by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, and is part of its Clean Oceans initiative, established in 2019, to address the growing problem of plastics and other waste in our oceans.

To date, nearly 600 tonnes of rubbish has been hauled up in nets by fishermen and the wider Irish seafood industry in a series of quayside and shoreline cleanups as part of this initiative.

Minister McConalogue said:

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“Protecting Ireland’s marine environment means protecting Ireland’s marine habitat and coastal communities today and for future generations. The livelihoods of those who live and work in these communities depend on the quality of their working environment.

He said he was “greatly encouraged” by the tremendous efforts being made by fishermen and the wider Irish seafood industry in the Clean Oceans initiative.

This is an industry that demonstrates the positive impact of working together to actively tackle the serious problem of plastics in our oceans.

BIM Managing Director Jim O’Toole said, “Awareness of the serious problem of plastics in our oceans is widely known and much media attention has been given to it. But genuine efforts are being made by the Irish seafood industry to do what they can to address the problem.

He added that collaboration within industry and with the wider maritime sector has been critical to the success of the Clean Oceans initiative to date. “The industry is really committed to actively tackling the growing problem of plastics in our seas,” he said.

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