From the deepest sea, for a new life

The DeFishGear project aims to ensure the sustainable management of marine litter - in particular derelict fishing gear - in the Adriatic Sea

Marine litter poses a major threat to marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea due to its environmental, economic, safety, health and cultural impacts.

The DeFishGear project will result in a strategy for reducing marine litter pollution in the Adriatic Sea by involving different stakeholders (fishing industry, researchers, policy-makers, NGOs and recycling industry). Upon the end of the project, the Adriatic region will have its first assessment of marine litter based on data collected and actions performed in pilot areas, better knowledge on micro plastic pollution and its effects on marine biota that will continue to promote the reduction of marine litter even after the completion of the project.

Activities will be coordinated and synchronized on cross-border level and will promote the ecosystem approach (EcAP) with outputs that will help to achieve a Good Environmental Status in line with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) Descriptor 10, Marine Litter. Thus, the project will foster collaborative policy frameworks for the implementation of the ICZM protocol at cross-border level, thus aiming at improving the scientific knowledge, underpinning decisions on coastal zone management strategies and options. Target groups are policy makers and industry as well as research institutions. Key stakeholders are all those who benefit from and depend on the marine environment (fishermen, aquaculture, tourism, transportation, local/regional authorities, national authorities, supra-national authorities) as well as the general public.

Through the implementation of the DeFishGear Project, marine litter in the Adriatic coastal waters will be reduced by involving fishermen as one of the key factors for marine litter cause and solution.

Pilot activities have been realized by setting out a system for collection and recycling of derelict fishing gear, including the so called “ghost nets”, and collection of floating and seabed litter, caught in the nets while fishing. These activities will be based on the example of good practice originating from the project Save the North Sea.

The implementation of DeFishGear will bring forth many outputs that will facilitate the Participation process aspect of Integrated Coastal Zone Management Protocol (ICZM). On the basis of the newly acquired knowledge, it is envisaged to develop a database containing all information relevant to the marine litter and its connection to the economic activities and social factors. The emphasis is placed on detecting the cross-cutting issues among different stakeholders, identifying bottlenecks within their interaction, and providing the best practical solutions. Since the Project recognizes the importance of maintaining regional competitiveness, its implementation is directed towards creating connections with recycling industry, thus enabling the analysis of an entire life cycle of derelict fishing gear suitable for recycling or processing.

The project‘s dissemination strategy, among other, aims at stakeholder groups such as the fishery sector, as one of the key factors for a fast and effective transfer of the project outcomes into the local policy and initiatives, thus contributing to the national and international policy addressing marine litter issues. Consequently, the public awareness on the marine litter issue will be raised in all project participating countries.

The Outcomes of these activities will provide fact-based arguments for policy makers and establish a regional network of experts that will continue to collaborate among themselves assuring a sustainable joint management of marine litter in the Adriatic. Therefore, in this project is set out to create uniform capacity in member states, thus following the pre-accession assistance goals.

All activities will result in descriptive guidelines serving as a compilation of good practices, and encompassing new knowledge acquired in the process of the project implementation.

A Close Connection with the Recycling Industry: the Econyl Yarn

In order to enhance synergies and impacts, the establishment of collection points for derelict fishing gear is foreseen on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The recovered Nylon fishing nets will be regenerated into Econyl® yarn, a high-quality raw material used by The Healthy Seas Initiative Members to manufacture new products, such as socks, swimwear, underwear and carpets.

Since 1969, the Aquafil Group has been a leading player, both in Italy and globally, in the production of Nylon 6. In 2011 Aquafil developed and launched the ECONYL® Regeneration System. Thanks to this groundbreaking process, the fishing nets recovered by the Healthy Seas initiative can be regenerated into ECONYL® nylon yarn. The yarn is used for the production of sustainable apparel and carpet products.

This is how Giulio Bonazzi, Chairman, Aquafil Group, explains how Econyl brings back to new life the waste collected: «As we all know waste is a by-product of any industrial production. What if we could somehow turn this concept upside down? This is exactly our idea: We reduce the amount of global waste by collecting it from landfills and oceans and feeding it back into production cycles. As people working for the ECONYL® brand we invest our commitment, determination and skill to make these dreams, ideas and values come true. By that we create processes and products that help make tomorrow a better place to live. A place, where industrial production goes hand in hand with respect for the environment. A place, where sustainable technologies, processes and products with low environmental impact dominate the landscape of global markets».

In the Defishgear Project

ECNC Group

The ECNC Group is the leading European Expertise Centre for Biodiversity and Sustainability. The Group provides tailor-made expertise on marine conservation and mobilizes its wide international and local networks for Healthy Seas. With the help of dedicated dive teams, the ECNC Group coordinates the recovery of abandoned fishing nets and runs regular activities to raise awareness among the fishing industry and local communities.

Star Sock

Established in 1996, Star Sock has become a trusted sock-partner for the international retail market. With a focus on sport and lifestyle, it holds licenses for several well-known brands. Respect for the environment forms an integral part of the company philosophy, and an innovative and sustainable approach is behind its long-term success. Star Sock was the first company to give new life to the recovered fishing nets by using Econyl® regenerated yarn in its socks.