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Project Description

Fishing is a significant source of plastic pollution in the seas. This issue is addressed by the Blue Circular Nets (CIRCNETS) project, which is funded by the Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic 2021-2027 Programme (NPA). CIRCNETS supports the collection, treatment, and recycling of fishing gear, ensuring that end-of-life nets are disposed of appropriately and do not end up polluting the seas and degrading the marine environment.

Long distances and lack of critical mass are key challenges for organising waste management in many parts of the northern, peripheral and sparsely populated areas of Europe. This is highlighted even more in the case of end-of-life (EOL) fishing gear, which due to the changes in legislation, has to be collected separately.

Read the first edition of the Gull Bulletin/CIRCNETS Newsletter here

An example of end-of-life (EOL) fishing gear

CIRCNETS will support the setting up of a collection system for EOL fishing gear in the NPA region. Finding out, how collection can be organised regionally in a most efficient and economical way, which also adheres to the “do no significant harm” principle, requires solutions to be looked at from other regions, who have already taken steps towards this. However, the collection of fishing gear opens up a possibility to proceed towards a more circular economy, and find out ways, how the collected materials can be recycled regionally.

CIRCNETS will create solutions for both of these issues by drafting the blueprint for the collection, treatment and recycling of EOL fishing gear in the NPA region. The project partnership includes organisations from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Iceland, Faroe Islands and Greenland.

Project Information

Project Duration: 01.01.2023 - 31.12.2025
Funded By: Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic
Project Coordinator: University of Oulu
Partners: Western Development Commission, University of Oulu, University of Galway, Sotenäs kommun, Mar Eco Solutions, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Project Actions

The actions of the project have been divided between three work packages (WP). The deliverables of the work packages pave the way towards the overall aim of the project. The work packages are the following ones:

  • Analysis of fishing gear volumes and collection responsibilities and practices in NPA ports

WP1 maps out the overall fishing gear volumes that are in use in NPA countries, collected EOL fishing gear volumes and the EOL fishing gear collection responsibilities and practices in NPA ports.

  • NPA marine plastic mitigation model (collection, treatment, reuse)

WP2 develops a model to sustainably use EOL fishing gear, which includes analysis of the current disposal systems, end of waste criteria, economic potential and emerging technologies for EOL fishing gear utilisation.

  • Implementation of EPR for EOL fishing gear in NPA countries

WP3 maps out how extended producer responsibility (EPR) can be implemented in fishing gear sector taking into account the implementation of EPR in other sectors and the legislative changes, such as changes in EPR, single use plastics and port reception directives.

Increasing knowledge about marine plastic pollution has a high priority in the project. The spokesperson of the project, Gus the Gull, will advocate these issues to the general public in various ways, e.g. in Twitter. Another aspect is informing the fishing sector in particular about the legislative changes, which will affect EOL fishing gear. The project will also promote the best practices, which can be used to recycle the collected materials and how these can be given a second life. Specific dissemination activities, workshops and webinars will be organised about these themes over the course of the project.

Project Results

The overall aim of the project is to draft recommendations for setting up a collection and treatment system for EOL fishing gear in the NPA region. The local circumstances and legislative requirements will be taken into account in the drafting of this blueprint . Another aspect, which emerges from this activity, is the recycling of EOL fishing gear as a raw material. CIRCNETS will review the currently used methods and technologies from the participating regions, and these best practices will be shared to support circular economy activities in the whole NPA region.

Project Funders

Blue Circular Nets and NPA logo

Project Contacts

The lead project partner for CIRCNETS is the University of Oulu.

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