Over 11,000 tonnes of fishing gear discarded at sea in the EU each year
The European Commission is committed to tackling the growing problem of marine litter, focusing on the 11,000 tonnes of fishing gear lost or discarded at sea in the EU each year.
As part of the overall single-use plastic reduction targets, the EU executive has said it is proposing new measures on reporting lost fishing gear and recovering it.
Member States, like Ireland, are now required under the 2019 rules to ensure that certain single-use plastic products are no longer placed on the EU market, i.e. when durable products can be used instead.
These include cotton swab sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, balloon sticks, as well as some styrofoam products such as mugs and food and drink containers, the said. Commission.
Fishing gear, as well as single-use plastic bags, bottles, packages and wrappers, tobacco filters, sanitary ware and wet wipes, are treated differently.
Limiting their use, reducing their consumption and preventing litter through labeling requirements are measures taken for this category.
Under the new rules, starting next year, Member States will be required to report fishing gear containing plastic placed on the market and fishing gear collected at sea.
The aim is to provide incentives to bring all fishing gear ashore and improve its handling there, the Commission said.
Member States like Ireland will have other obligations. Countries with marine waters will need to set a national minimum annual collection rate of waste fishing gear containing plastic for recycling by the end of 2024.
Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear accounts for 27% of beach waste, according to a 2018 EU impact assessment, and a significant proportion of fishing gear placed on the market is not collected for processing.
Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “The negative impacts of plastic waste on the environment, on oceans and marine life, and on our health are global and drastic.
“The rules to reduce plastic pollution are ambitious and respond to citizens’ calls for decisive action, making the EU a forerunner in the global fight against marine litter.”
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), ghost fishing describes abandoned fishing gear that still captures life.
“Ghost fishing gear is the deadliest form of marine plastic as it non-selectively captures wildlife, entangling marine mammals, seabirds, sea turtles and sharks, subjecting them to slow death and painful from exhaustion and suffocation, ”WWF said.