The North Western Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC) is one of the EU’s 11 fisheries advisory councils. Established under the Common Fisheries Policy the advisory councils are fora for dialogue between stakeholders in the fisheries sector in the areas they represent. The NWWAC advises on matters related to fisheries management in ICES areas 5b, 6 and 7 (EC offshore waters within the EEZ of Ireland, part of the United Kingdom and France). Early this year the NWWAC hosted a workshop “Re-imagining Gear in a Circular Economy” in Brussels in conjunction with the Baltic Sea Advisory Council, North Sea Advisory Council and Pelagic Advisory Council. Discussion at the workshop focused on the fishing gear component of recently introduced EU legislation, specifically the design, monitoring, collection and disposal of fishing gear.
Around 50 participants from 10 EU Member States discussed the challenges faced by the fishing sector relating to the proposed measures. These include the proposed introduction of an Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme, under which producers of fishing gear cover the costs of the separate collection of waste fishing gear and its subsequent transport and treatment, as well as the envisaged standardisation of gear, relating to the circular design of fishing gear to encourage preparation for re-use and to facilitate recyclability at end-of-life, and the overall lack of data regarding volumes of end-of-life gear and current recycling rates.
Clear recommendations from the workshop include the need for a full lifecycle analysis of the various types of fishing gear, as well as a complete supply chain analysis in order to arrive at a clear picture of the scale of the issue. While communication and awareness raising within the sector are paramount, it is vital that all stakeholders at local, national and EU levels coordinate their approach, as this issue falls within multiple policy areas, namely fisheries, waste management and circular economy.
The full report is available here: http://www.nwwac.org/_fileupload/Minutes%20and%20Reports/2020/Gear%20Workshop/FINAL%20Report%20AC%20Gear%20Workshop%202020_EN.pdf. For French or Spanish translations, enter the relevant version of the website at www.nwwac.org and visit the publications section.