Preventing ocean plastic pollution from fishing gear

INdIGO will develop biodegradable fishing gear that will lead to the prevention of ocean plastic pollution in the long term. The project will also promote the circular economy by optimising net recycling routes and by disseminating good practices in the programme area.
Key aims are to:
  • reduce marine plastic pollution generated by fisheries and aquaculture
  • develop the first biodegradable fishing gear with a finite lifespan to benefit the marine environment
  • identify fishing gear already lost and improve the recycling of fishing gear at the end of its life.
INdIGO infographic

Fishing gear is estimated to represent 27% of marine litter with more than 26,000 km of gear lost in the English Channel area each year. With an estimated lifetime of several hundreds of years, the impacts on marine wildlife can be devastating. The persistence of lost and discarded fishing gear in the environment could be reduced by the use of biodegradable equipment with a controlled life span, however there is currently a lack of such products for use in the fishing and aquaculture sectors.

Led by the University of South Brittany, the INdIGO project will reduce long-lasting plastic waste in the Channel area through the development of biodegradable fishing gear, as well as expanding circular economy solutions for end-of-life and recovered fishing gear. It will raise awareness and engage the public through an application to locate fishing gear that is already lost.

Using four WPs, INdIGO will cover the production chain of the fishing gear from formulation (NaturePlast), filament manufacturing (UBS), to prototype net development (Filt, IFREMER). The deployment of the net at sea (SMEL, CEFAS), durability tests (UBS and IRMA), technical and economic analysis (University of Portsmouth) will then be undertaken. A life cycle analysis will be completed to avoid pollution transfer (University of Plymouth). The involvement of SMEs will ensure the economic sustainability of the project by exploiting the results of the project. This expertise of the sector will enable INdIGO to develop products that are adapted to the needs of the market and competitive with current alternatives, while reducing their impact on the environment.

INdIGO is working with Odyssey Innovation a company based in Cornwall that created the Net Regeneration Scheme, a recycling route for harbours, fishermen, beach clean groups, charities, and marine conservation groups. The project aims to develop the circular economy of fishing gear through overcoming barriers to recycling, upstream innovations and stimulating demand for the recyclates produced.

Progress and outcomes will be communicated to end-users, manufacturers, the scientific community, public authorities and the general public to raise awareness about the impacts of discarded fishing gear on our marine ecosystems and the solutions being developed by INdIGO.

INdIGO is a European project funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the Interreg France (Channel) England programme.

For more information on the INdIGO project please visit the project website at:

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Project aims to transform how fishing industry deals with discarded nets

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.
Fishing nets