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Bridging end-user and scientific knowledge to combat ghost nets

Loizidou I., Xenia; Orthodoxou, Demetra; Loizides I., Michael; Petsa, Demetra

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  "publisher": "Zenodo", 
  "DOI": "10.5281/zenodo.7078581", 
  "author": [
      "family": "Loizidou I., Xenia"
      "family": "Orthodoxou, Demetra"
      "family": "Loizides I., Michael"
      "family": "Petsa, Demetra"
  "issued": {
    "date-parts": [
  "abstract": "<p><strong>Introduction</strong></p>\n\n<p>Marine litter, defined as all human-created solid material, produced through land-based or sea-based activities and discharged, deliberately or accidentally, into the marine and coastal environment (European Commission, 2021; L&ouml;hr et al., 2017; UNEP, 2009; Williams and Rangel-Buitrago, 2019), has been identified as a major threat to marine ecosystems, the environment, human health, and society (M&aelig;land and Staupe-Delgado, 2020). Plastic items make the greatest proportion of marine litter (Hengstmann et al., 2017; Mokos et al., 2020; Munari et al., 2016), and at least 10% of marine litter is made up of fishing waste (Jambeck et al., 2015; Mcfadyen et al., 2009). A recent study has identified that an estimated 48.4 kt of fishing gear is accidentally lost into the marine environment every year (Kuczenski et al., 2022), and this estimate does not account of the fishing gear that is abandoned or discarded into the marine environment. &nbsp;</p>\n\n<p>Derelict or discarded fishing nets are aptly named &lsquo;ghost nets&rsquo;, as they continue to fish long after they have been lost in the marine environment causing significant marine life loss (Lively and Good, 2019) due to entanglement, entrapment and suffocation. Ghost nets have been identified as an item of particular concern in the European Directive on single-use plastics, which came into effect in July 2021 and aims to establish extended producer responsibility schemes for the collection and recycling of fishing nets. In parallel to these efforts, the European Union is also funding research and innovation to address the issue. One of these R&amp;D projects is SEALIVE<sup>1</sup>, which aims to develop bio-based fishing gears and nets made from green alternative materials such as micro-algae, and which are biodegradable in the marine environment and compostable at an industrial scale.</p>\n\n<p>However, the shift to bio-based and biodegradable/compostable fishing nets can only be successful if their main end-users are involved in the process, from its very beginning to its end. In this paper, the authors present the method followed to facilitate end-user (i.e. fishers) and scientist collaboration to achieve the development of an optimised product: bio-degradable/compostable fishing nets.</p>\n\n<p><strong>Methods</strong></p>\n\n<p>An integrated methodological framework is implemented for involving and obtaining feedback from the fishing community. At first, in each area fishers are identified and contacted. They are informed on the project and how they will get actively involved, and the interested ones are recorded. The fishers are requested to provide samples of the type of fishing nets they most commonly use. The samples are shared with the bio-based primary material producers and the fishing net producers. These two important supply chain stakeholders then examine the nets to deduce the key characteristics that the bio-based fishing nets will have to replicate to ensure that they are able to perform in the same way as conventional fishing nets. These characteristics include whether the nets are monofilament or multifilament, knotted or not, their diameter, colour, tenacity, and elongation.</p>\n\n<p>The next step of the method includes the development of training material targeting fishing net end-users. The training takes a modular approach and includes in-class learning and on-the-job training. The materials covered aim to (i) raise awareness and educate fishers and other relevant stakeholders about the importance of replacing conventional plastic nets with more sustainable alternatives that are bio-based and biodegradable, (ii) train the fishing net end-users on the way they need to report their experience with using the fishing nets back to the research team, and (iii) ensure that fishers are familiar with the end-of-life management that is required for the bio-based nets.</p>\n\n<p>The final part of the method involves the piloting studies, where fishers test the developed fishing nets for a period of 12 months, using them as they would normally use their conventional nets. This part involves regular debriefing meetings with the fishers so that any issues and difficulties that they are facing could be recorded and so that the state of the fishing nets can be monitored, through photographic evidence, to observe any signs of degradation, tears, discolouration, elongation and so on.</p>\n\n<p><strong>Results</strong></p>\n\n<p>The stakeholder engagement method implemented within the SEALIVE project aims to create the much-needed bridge between end-users, scientists, and decision makers. In this specific case, fishers are the end users. This cooperation leads to the development of tested and operational new material. The stakeholder-centred approach that is taken does not only allow for the testing of the novel fishing net products in real environments, but also allows the evaluation of the acceptability of the nets by their end-users economically and socially. These two aspects combined are necessary to facilitate the entry-to-market of these alternative, more sustainable products. Additionally, the implemented method leads to a societal shift within the fishing community since (i) there is a greater acceptability of the new products since, by&nbsp; being involved from the very beginning, fishers become part of the sustainability shift within their own industry, (ii) fishers receive extended information through their own exposure to the new bio-material, which helps them to better understand bioplastics and the impacts of lost or discarded gear, and (iii) fishers have an increased sense of co-responsibility when it comes to the protection of the marine environment from ghost nets.</p>\n\n<p><strong>References</strong></p>\n\n<p>European Commission, 2021. Our Oceans, Seas and Coasts. Viewed 12<sup>th</sup> of May 2021. http s:// index_en.htm.</p>\n\n<p>Hengstmann, E., Gr&uml;awe, D., Tamminga, M., Fischer, E.K., 2017. Marine litter abundance and distribution on beaches on the Isle of R&uuml;gen considering the influence of exposition, morphology and recreational activities. <em>Marine Pollution Bulletin,</em> 115 (1&ndash;2), 297&ndash;306.</p>\n\n<p>Jambeck, J.R., Geyer, R., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T.R., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., Narayan, R., Law, K.L., 2015. Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. <em>Science,</em> 347 (6223), 768&ndash;771.</p>\n\n<p>Kucznenshi, B., Vargas Poulsen, C., Gilman, E.L., Musyl, M., Geyer, R., Wilson, J. (2022). Plastic gear loss estimates from remote observation of industrial fishing activity. <em>Fish and Fisheries</em>, 23, 22-33.</p>\n\n<p>L&ouml;hr, A., Savelli, H., Beunen, R., Kalz, M., Ragas, A., Van Belleghem, F., 2017. Solutions for global marine litter pollution. <em>Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability</em>, 28, 90&ndash;99.</p>\n\n<p>Macfadyen, G., Huntington, T., Cappell, R. (2009). Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear. UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies 185. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper 523., Aquaculture</p>\n\n<p>M&aelig;land, C.E., Staupe-Delgado, R., 2020. Can the global problem of marine litter be considered a crisis? <em>Risk Hazards Crisis Public Policy,</em> 11 (1), 87&ndash;104.</p>\n\n<p>Mokos, M., Rokov, T., \u010ci\u017emek, I.Z., 2020. Monitoring and analysis of marine litter in Vodenjak cove on I\u017e Island, central Croatian Adriatic Sea. <em>Rendiconti Lincei. Scienze Fisiche e Naturali</em>, 31 (3), 905&ndash;912.</p>\n\n<p>Munari, C., Corbau, C., Simeoni, U., Mistri, M., 2016. Marine litter on Mediterranean shores: analysis of composition, spatial distribution and sources in north-western Adriatic beaches. <em>Waste Management</em>, 49, 483&ndash;490.</p>\n\n<p>UNEP, 2009. Marine Litter: A Global Challenge. UNEP, Nairobi.</p>\n\n<p>Williams, A.T., Rangel-Buitrago, N., 2019. Marine litter: solutions for a major environmental problem. <em>Journal of Coastal Research</em>, 35 (3), 648&ndash;663.</p>", 
  "title": "Bridging end-user and scientific knowledge to combat ghost nets", 
  "type": "speech", 
  "id": "7078581"
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