by Alex Larson
To clean the oceans of all the plastic waste, humans will need to get ingenuitive in their attempt to clean up the ocean and much more important, in how to prevent it.
While finding an alternative to plastic that is practical to replicate on such a large scale has been a challenge, many people across the world are doing what they can to try and clean up the plastic that is in the sea.
Now, Irish fishing trawlers will be used to remove plastic waste from the oceans by the end of 2019, according to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.
Creed called for all trawlers to get involved in the Clean Oceans Initiative by the end of this year.
“A coordinated action is required,” he said, “to address the serious issue of pollution of the Oceans with plastics.”
Fishing ports, harbours and piers all need to get involved, said Creed, and added that he hoped the industry would build on the work it had been doing voluntarily to date.
With an estimated 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic already estimated to be in the ocean today, that number will only grow at a rapid pace in the future. By 2050, plastic pollution is estimated to outweigh all fish in the ocean.
Plastic also harms the marine life and the very fish stocks that fisherman make a living in, are being impacted severely.
The plan for Irish fisherman is to actively remove garbage, plastic and man-made debris everyday, “as they go about their activity at sea”, according to Creed.
A Department of Agriculture statement said that those working in the fishing industry shared concerns about the plastics issue.
“Our fishing vessels are towing nets through the waters around our coast on a daily basis and often find debris, including waste plastics, when the nets are hauled,” said the statement.
With the hope that fisherman will be bringing home a lot of garbage after each trip out at sea, the Minister is making funding available under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), to provide storage facilities on board vessels.
The funding will also be used for “on-shore infrastructure for environmentally friendly disposal of all plastics, waste, ghost fishing gear, etc. recovered at sea.”
The Seafood Development Agency will be tasked with putting together a team of stakeholders which will include fishermen, fish farmers, net makers, harbor authorities, fish processors, community groups, Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs), academics and NGOs to determine the best methods of prevention and removal.
This would also include a wider outreach to coastal communities, asking people to report back at the end of the year with more proposals for solutions for the removal and prevention of plastics in the future.