Fisheries & Aquaculture News

New Project Recycle Môr Creating Sustainable Solutions for End-Of-Life Fishing Gear Problem

A new partnership bringing together a Pembrokeshire marine conservation charity and a Cornish environmentally conscious business launch a project to reduce marine plastic pollution by providing free end of life plastic fishing gear disposal on harbors across Pembrokeshire, Wales.

These recycling bins will be placed at harbors including Saundersfoot, Tenby, Porthgain and Lower Town in Fishguard. There will also be a bin at the Ocean Lab in Goodwick.

Sea Trust Wales and Waterhaul have partnered together and received funding from FLAG (Fisheries Local Action Group) via EMFF (European Maritime & Fisheries Fund) for a five-month pilot project that started in October called Recycle Môr.

The project will trial a system to collect, sort and recycle end of life plastic gear into high quality products. The pilot will determine whether the system can be sustainable, especially at smaller harbors such Porthgain and Lower Town Fishguard. A similar system has been in place in the southwest of England for the last few years, but the small size, type of fishing industry and remote location has been seen as a barrier to a similar system being implemented in Wales. If the pilot project is successful, the project could then be expanded to other harbors across Pembrokeshire, Wales, or the UK where there are collections of smaller harbors in remote locations.

EM1 Recycle Mor Bin Tenby HarbourThe innovative partnership between the organizations is the key to success as the net and rope that is collected can be sent to project partners Waterhaul. The rope and nets would last hundreds of years in the environment as they are made to be as strong as possible, these properties are what make them perfect to be recycled into high quality products such as sunglasses, litter pickers, litter picking bag hoops, and knives. Waterhaul intend to launch new Pembrokeshire editions of their sunglasses, made form the material collected through the Recycle Môr scheme, into order to help fund the work making it sustainable in the long run. The project also relies on the expertise of Waterhaul who have been collecting and recycling nets from their local area since 2018.

This project is vital as not only is marine plastic pollution as waste of high-quality resources but each year 8 to 12 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans, if this waste is given a value, then it creates an even higher incentive to be recovered from the sea and be re-used. Recycling the plastic also creates less greenhouse gasses than using virgin materials. End of life fishing gear also poses a risk by continuing to fish while left in the sea, nets and trap continue to catch animals where they become entangled and die of starvation, this then acts as bait and attracts other animals, and the cycle continues.

The hope is that this project can be replicated in other remote seaside communities across the UK and beyond. To bring the value back to the lost fishing gear, get it collected and then recycled back into high quality items creating a circular economy.

Lloyd Nelmes, Marine Project Officer, at Sea Trust Wales, said: “As a marine conservation charity, marine plastic is always one of our main priorities. Through previous projects we have identified a need for better waste collection in harbors, especially in smaller harbors. This needed an innovative and sustainable solution, there is a large expense associated with removing waste but repurposing it into new high-quality items could be the solution”

Harry Dennis, Founder and CEO, at Waterhaul, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to expand end-of-life fishing gear recycling to the Pembrokeshire coastline and to be working collaboratively with a range of stakeholders to achieve the common goal of tackling plastic waste and creating circular economy solutions. We’re excited to be able to demonstrate the transformation from waste material into valued resource, and how this can be used to drive positive change and impact.”

Cllr Paul Miller, Pembrokeshire County Council's Cabinet Member for the Economy said, "Pembrokeshire County Council is the lead body for the Cleddau to Coast Fisheries Local Action Group so we are delighted to support Sea Trust and the Pembrokeshire fishing community. This project will enable Pembrokeshire fishers to recycle locally produced marine waste, and also allow them to deal with the large amounts of marine litter brought to our coast by the Gulf Stream."

Richard Joseph, the officer for the Cleddau to Coast Fisheries Local Action Group said, "The FLAG is especially pleased that it has helped Sea Trust secure funding through the European Maritime and Fishing Fund programme. This project will provide benefits for both wildlife and Pembrokeshire's coastal communities."

This project has received funding through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, which is funded by the European Union and the Welsh Government.

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