Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Michael Creed, has announced Ireland’s Clean Oceans Initiative and called for the participation of the entire Irish trawl fishing fleet in the scheme by 31st December 2019. His ambition is to have all Irish trawlers at every pier and every port actively participating in Ireland’s first co-ordinated initiative on land and at sea to collect, reduce and reuse marine litter and clean up our marine environment.
Building on the highly successful Fishing for Litter campaign, the Minister has challenged BIM to work with the fishing industry to ensure participation of 100% of Irish trawlers in the Clean Oceans Initiative by the end of 2019. BIM will report to him quarterly on the progress being made to meet that target.
‘I recognise that co-ordinated action is required on land and at sea to address the serious issue of pollution of the Oceans with plastics. This threatens our fish stocks, the wider marine environment and the future of our fishing industry,’ Michael Creed said, speaking at the Clean Oceans launch in Union Hall.
‘I am setting out a challenge for our fishing industry to set a world first by having all of our fishing trawlers cleaning and removing plastic from the ocean every day, as they go about their activity at sea. This is good for the marine environment, fish stocks and our fishing industry. This is a challenge which I am confident our fishing industry will rise to and succeed in setting an example for other nations.
He stressed that the problem of plastics in the oceans can only be addressed through a collaborative approach.
‘Ireland’s Clean Oceans Initiative aims to mobilise every member of the Irish seafood sector and its wider communities – every fishing port, fishery harbour and pier in Ireland – to take action,’ he said.
‘I believe that our fishing industry will build on the good work they have been voluntarily doing to date on marine litter, to get every trawler in the Irish fleet involved, to show how we can begin to address this great global challenge of our time. Everyone has a responsibility for marine litter and we intend to take on that responsibility through Ireland’s Clean Oceans Initiative.’
Funding has been made available under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to support the Clean Oceans Initiative, providing on-board storage facilities and on-shore infrastructure for environmentally friendly disposal of all recovered plastics, waste, ghost fishing gear, etc. The on-shore infrastructure will also be available to fishermen and aquaculture operators to dispose of unwanted fishing gear and other items with a plastics content.
In addition to the Clean Oceans Initiative, Minister Creed has asked BIM to assemble a collaborative team representative of all stakeholders to focus on solutions for marine litter prevention and removal.
The team will include fishermen and fish farmers, net makers, harbour authorities, fish processors, community groups, Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs), academics and NGOs. He has also asked BIM to include a broader outreach to the wider coastal community, of which the seafood community are a vital and intrinsic part and to report back to him by the end of 2019 with proposals for further innovative solutions for the prevention and removal of marine litter.