Marine litter is a global concern, affecting all the oceans of the world. We need societal, behaviorial and policy changes to tackle the problem at its source. Awareness raising campaigns are an integral part of strategies to induce those changes. The EU organizes its own yearly ocean activism and awareness raising campaign, #EUBeachCleanup, which is one of its many initiatives against marine litter and pollution. In Italy, a coalition of civil society, local institutions and parks has joined forces with the EU with the REMARE project.
REMARE “una REte per il MARE” (a net for the sea), works both on the short-term and long-term perspective, as it organizes cleanups and raises awareness in the general public. Four Italian marine protected areas have been cleaned from marine litter with the help of local fishers from nearly 400 fishing boats from Castellabate to Sapri in the Campania region.
All vessels were equipped with bags to collect the waste they caught during their daily fishing activities. Each vessel also kept a “logbook”, where the crew registered information on the type of waste, the depth at which they caught it, the equipment used and the people involved. During the four months of the operation, the fishers gathered a total of 19 tonnes of marine litter.
REMARE was important also in collecting valuable data on the types and quantities of marine litter. Among the litter that ended up in the nets of fishers, plastics made up 64% of the total. Then glass, 8% and fishing gear and wood, both about 4%. The remaining 20% was made up of different materials: metals, fabrics, clothing and various objects. Once in port the collected litter in was placed in special containers provided by the municipal waste management companies in line with a circular economy approach.
In parallel with the actual collection of marine litter, the REMARE project also carried out an intense awareness-raising campaign about marine litter and gave insights into the damage that waste causes to the marine environment, habitats and species. The project produced brochures and leaflets, and organised dedicated regional meetings involving fishing operators and other stakeholders of the marine environment. Training activities for fishers and promotional events for project activities were also set up. The real novelty of the approach was the synergy created by REMARE: For the first time in Italy, all the managing bodies of the Marine Protected Areas of Campania cooperated with five fishing associations and cooperatives in the same region. "REMARE has made it possible to create a synergy between subjects who work with the sea for different purposes, such as marine protected areas and fishers”, explained Antonino Miccio, director of the Marine Protected Area of Punta Campanella, which is leading the project “But this time they followed and centered on a common goal. It was not easy [but] the results were encouraging, also for the future […]"
It would not have been possible to implement the operation without the financial support of the EU. For the beneficiaries and the areas concerned, support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund meant that a large amount of waste was collected and the marine environment improved. The extensive communication of the project’s aims and results created more awareness and will hopefully lead to more sustainable collective and individual behavior, and less marine litter in the future. At the same time, this important initiative supports the awareness raising efforts by the EU through the yearly #EUBeachCleanup campaign.
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September is the month of #EUBeachCleanup, the EU Ocean Activism and awareness raising campaign on marine litter and pollution. Find more information and join our fight to protect marine life.
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