The OCEANETS project has started testing a tool to prevent the loss and abandonment of fishing gear and to facilitate recovery. The project has also begun research on chemical and mechanical recycling processes that can be implemented to make use of these fishing nets to produce sportswear and other high added-value products.
GPS Enabled Tool for Tracking Lost Fishing Gears
In particular, the first tests were carried out on the GPS tracking tool, which fishermen can use for preventive purposes to identify areas where they detect obstacles that trap their fishing gear, as well as areas where they have lost nets, so that they can be collected.
Innovative Mechanical and Chemical Recycling Methods
The project’s work on land has also started with the first tests to develop innovative mechanical and chemical recycling methods to find new uses for recovered fishing nets at the end of their life cycle.
ARVI Gathers Lost Gears
The OCEANETS project is funded by the European Union and led by AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre. In the ten months since the project started, the Port of Vigo Shipowners’ Cooperative (ARVI) has contacted several agents in the fishing gear value chain (manufacturers, users, repair and waste management services) to gain firsthand information on the life cycle of fishing nets, as well as the challenges posed by their loss at sea and recycling at the end of their life cycle.
Member Ships to Bring Disused Nets to Port
ARVI member ships are chartered to bring disused nets to the port. The cooperative also works with waste managers and net makers that manufacture and repair fishing gear. One example is Tecnopesca, a fishing gear manufacturer whose professionals collaborate by determining the qualitative and quantitative composition of the typical trawling gear used in the Sole Bank and by sampling different fractions for analysis and recovery through recycling.
Recycling Polyamide Nets to Fibres
Initial chemical recycling tests are currently being performed on polyamide nets to obtain fibres that can be used to produce sportswear. For other kinds of fishing nets, AIMPLAS is doing research on mechanical recycling and compounding processes to improve the properties of the material so that it can be used in different value-added applications.
Other companies and associations participating in the OCEANETS project include ECOALF, the Universidad de Vigo, Sintex and the Asociación Vertidos Cero. The project is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals due to its commitment to the marine environment and to responsible production and consumption.