Date of issue: September 6, 2018
4th September 2018
Delegates from Norway, England, Scotland and Greenland joined industry experts in Cork, Ireland to discuss the challenges and issues surrounding marine plastics and to seek solutions for the global problem of waste fishing nets and rope. The seminar was the culmination of three years work and research by the transnational European Circular Ocean project, led by Cork County Council initiative Macroom E.
The harsh realities of marine pollution were examined and discussed at the seminar by various key speakers, including Lucy Hunt (Volvo Ocean Race), Sinead McCoy (Clean Coasts, An Taisce), Deirdre Clune MEP and Pascal van Erp (Ghost Fishing Foundation). The seminar also gave attendees the opportunity to view innovative products made from recycled fishing nets.
Opened by Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy, Mayor of County Cork, who described it as, “a hugely important issue facing us all. The work of the Circular Ocean project has certainly served to help build awareness both in Cork and further afield on the prevalence of marine plastics, the particular challenges of managing waste fishing nets and the potential solutions.”
Deirdre Clune MEP said, “With such a large coastline in Cork it’s fitting that the final seminar for this worthwhile project was held here this morning. Plastic producers must be responsible to put forward more sustainable solutions, particularly with production set to almost double over the next twenty years”. The seminar gave a timely reference to the EU Plastics Strategy 2018, which has addressed specific measures on port reception facilities, gear marking and producer responsibility schemes, which combined have the potential to bring considerable positive change to the management of waste fishing gear. “Targets on single use plastics and less polluting alternatives are being put in place and there is certainly an appetite at EU level to deal with these challenges”, continued the Cork MEP.
Circular Ocean Project Co-Ordinator, Julie Crowley, said that over the three years of the project, “we have motivated individuals and communities to rethink marine waste as a potential raw material. Great synergies have been developed between the national and international organisations involved that will outlast the project and hopefully lead to improvements and change in how we think collectively about marine waste.”
Ms Crowley’s words were echoed by Ted O’Leary, Cork County Council: “The Environment Directorate of Cork County Council very much endorses and supports the aims of the Circular Ocean project. The promotion of a sustainable circular economy in relation to marine waste is an objective very much in keeping with emerging international, EU and national waste management policy. Controlling marine waste is of necessity a priority for Cork County which with a coastline of 1,100km is the largest coastal county in the country. “We recognise that maintaining a pristine marine environment is essential, not just to the economy of Cork, but to the well-being of current and future generations. We will look to ensure that the lessons and recommendations of the project are supported across the many functions of the council that have an impact on the marine environment.”
Racing for Ocean Health – Lucy Hunt, Volvo Ocean Race
The Threat of Marine Plastics to Seabirds – Lee Heaney, Environmental Research Institute at the University of the Highlands & Islands
Clean Coasts, Strategy to Reality – Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts
Ghost Fishing, The Unseen Truth – Pascal van Erp, Ghost Fishing Foundation
Reuse of Waste Fishing Nets in Construction Materials – Ida Bertelsen, The Arctic Technology Centre
Using System Analysis to Evaluate Fishing Gear Resource Management – Dina Aspen, Norwegian University of Science & Technology
Local Eco-innovative & Circular Solutions – Professor Martin Charter, The Centre for Sustainable Design