Fishers, harbour masters, net producers and representatives from recycling companies and government officials have exchanged ideas on the creation of a circular economy for fishing gear.

The new business model will consider the full life-cycle of fishing gear in a bid to reduce its impact on the marine environment.

Hosted by BIM and supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the event is a first for the industry and forms part of a wider set of actions being taken by the State seafood development agency under the Clean Oceans Initiative to tackle the growing problem of marine waste.

Two new EU Directives: Impact of certain plastic products on environment and The Port reception facilities focus on the use and management of plastic waste.

Catherine Morrison, Sustainability and Certification Manager, BIM, said the Clean Oceans Initiative was based on the premise of collaboration:

“The men and women working in the fishing sector and in the wide seafood and other industries, can effect change must faster by working together under a single shared vision. Partnerships are vital if we are to address the challenge of marine waste.”

More than forty representatives attended the event in Cork city, facilitated by Whole Earth Futures, specialists in circular business model planning.

Catherine Barrett, Development Officer, BIM, added that focus was on the entire life-cycle of fishing gear:

“We want to look at the entire life-cycle of fishing gear. A 360° view that considers its purchase, use, ‘retiring’ and how it is recycled. This collective multi-industry focus will help us innovate and develop better end-of-use systems for gear such as nets, to impact positively on the environment and on the economy.”

To date BIM has collected more than 600 tonnes of old or damaged fishing nets for recycling.