In the heart of the Bay of Biscay, where the azure waters meet the Spanish Basque Country, the BLUENET project set sail to tackle lost fishing gear, upcycling the ominous 'ghost-nets'.
Turning litter into ropes
Thanks to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, BLUENET set up a programme to recycle abandoned, lost or discarded fishing and aquaculture gear.
It would then be used as raw material to manufacture long line ropes for mussel aquaculture production.
The project fostered cooperation with fishers, ports, waste managers, and local authorities. It then partnered with local SMEs to recover, condition, and recycle ghost nets.
The project, in 30 months, was able to provide alternative sustainable designs for gears, and to test the suitability of recycled materials in net and rope-making designs.
And thanks to BLUENET, a strategy for Fishing for Litter activities was developed in the Basque Country for the first time!
From BLUENET to Searcular
BLUENET then paved the way for the creation of the Searcular project.
Launching in September 2023, Searcular will attempt to reduce marine litter and microplastics from Europe's most significant fishery contributors. It will also aim to introduce circular economy practices within the fishing sector value chain by fostering behavioural change.
Searcular will help develop, test, and validate four close-to-market sustainable and circular solutions:
- utilising recycled polyamide for fishing ropes
- using marine-biodegradable materials for demersal seine ropes
- designing biodegradable drifting Fish Aggregating Devices for tropical tuna purse seine fishery
- proposing an End-of-Life fishing gear solution for ports, promoting a replicable management system
Crucially, these solutions will seek to eliminate waste generated from fishing gears, promoting the circulation of materials and regenerating nature.
Continuing the legacy
From BLUENET’s inception to Searcular's emergence, this journey is marked by innovation, collaboration, and unwavering dedication to a sustainable future.
With projects like BLUENET and Searcular, the ocean's blue depths hold the promise of a clearer, more sustainable future.
- Publication date
- 27 September 2023
- Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries