A trial project is is aiming to pay fishing fleets to catch plastic instead of fish. The plan comes from the EU fisheries chief, and aims to provide an alternative income stream for the fishing industry, and to ease pressure on declining fish numbers.
The experimental project will begin in the Mediterranean this month. Fishing boats will be supplied with nets to catch plastic that is a threat to sea life. The plastic will be sent for recycling where possible.
Fishing fleets have vigorously opposed the European commission’s plans to ban the wasteful discarding of edible fish at sea, so it is hoped this will help to ease industry fears at not being allowed to ditch fish of lesser financial value. Up to two thirds of the fish catch in some places is discarded, mostly dead, because fishing quotas are exceeded. Around a million tonnes of fish a year are discarded just in the North Sea.
Fishing fleets catching plastic will be provided with subsidies by the EU member states, but it is hoped that the enterprise will become profitable as the industry catches increasing amounts of recyclable plastic.