Marine litter is recognised as a growing global problem. And it is estimated that more than a quarter of such material found within the English Channel area is made up of nets lost by the fishing industry.
A new cross-Channel research project involving the University of Plymouth aims to tackle this by cleaning our oceans of the plastic currently within them, and hopefully preventing them from being polluted to such a degree in the future.
Scientists in England and France will work to develop biodegradable fishing gear that can be used by both small and large boats across the industry.
They will also look to enhance the recycling of collected marine plastics, so that it doesn’t either remain in the oceans or become a problem once again in the future.
The INdIGO (INnovative fIshing Gear for Ocean) project has received €2.9million from the Interreg VA France (Channel) England (FCE) European Programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Of that, €540,000 will be coming to Plymouth where researchers, working alongside Cornish company Odyssey Innovation, will focus on the recycling of salvaged nets and the establishment of an international recycling network.
Dr Jasper Graham-Jones, Associate Professor in Mechanical and Marine Engineering, is leading the Plymouth element of the project, which will build on the University’s world leading reputation for marine litter research and impact.
He has volunteered for the lifeboat service in Hayling Island and Looe since 1998 and the HM Coastguard since 2011. He has also recently been re-elected as a Looe Harbour Commissioner, both of which have seen him work closely with the fishing industry.