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09-05-2012

Working together for a cleaner North Sea

The Belgian fisheries sector is committed with SDVO, the Belgian authorities and the plastics industry (Federplast.be) to work together for a cleaner North Sea. Thanks to the commitment of all those who are involved in projects such as Waste Free Oceans, Fishing for Litter and the use for human consumption of the bycatch of fisheries, the first positive results can be presented.

Thus, the "Fishing for Litter" project was designed to allow fishermen to bring to land the waste they find in their nets. To this end, the Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Fisheries (SDVO - Stichting voor Duurzame Visserijontwikkeling) has made available a receiving station on the docks at Ostend where marine debris are sorted before being sent for further treatment or recycling.

In 2011, they went even further and with the research center eCOAST a pilot project was conducted to see whether fishing boats could actively collect debris floating in the sea. This project was part of the pan-European initiative Waste Free Oceans, which is supported by the EU Commissioner Maria Damanaki, in charge of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs.

The results of the pilot showed that the amount of debris floating off the Belgian coast is generally very limited. Many efforts in recycling and in raising awareness of waste issues with the Belgians have clearly borne fruit. A North Sea without plastic, however, is not for tomorrow. There is still too much waste that ends up in the seabed and on our beaches, but we are certainly on the right track.

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