Isle of Man fishermen are being encouraged to collect rubbish from the sea and bring it ashore in a project to help clean the marine environment.
The Fishing for Litter (FFL) initiative will see the Isle of Man Government provide fishermen with reusable marine litter sacks to collect rubbish that is caught in nets during normal fishing activities.
Filled bags are emptied into designated quayside bins before the waste is safely taken away. Buckets will also be made available from harbour offices so crews can prevent any plastic from blowing into the sea when undertaking tasks such as net mending.
Each Isle of Man port will be paired with a local school and information from the marine litter collected will be used to educate children about the issue.
Children will learn all about the range of waste items found at sea, and the issues that they cause. They will gain a better understanding of the vital work that fishermen are doing to protect the sea from litter.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture said: ‘Fishing for Litter is part of our national commitment to help reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our seas; a healthy marine environment is vital for everyone, especially the fishing industry as their livelihoods depend on it.’
The Isle of Man Government is committed to reducing the amount of single use plastic on the Island, and the project forms part of the Single Use Plastic Reduction Plan for the Isle of Man Community.
The Manx Wildlife Trust and Beach Buddies, which are Biosphere partners, work closely with Government on a range of initiatives to inform and educate on plastic issues and work to reduce the issue of plastics and their impact on the Manx environment.
The FFL scheme has been a great success in the UK and parts of Europe, with more than 380 vessels signed up so far in the UK, and over 1,632 tonnes of marine litter collected.
So far the response from the Manx fishing fleet has been positive, with over 20 Manx boats signed up. It is hoped that all of the commercial Manx fishing vessels will sign up to the scheme, which is being supported by the Department of Infrastructure, which will help with the safe and responsible disposal of waste.
Ray Harmer MHK, Minister for Infrastructure said:
‘This positive partnership between Government and the fishing sector will see us working together to maintain clean and healthy waters.
‘It is hoped that collaborative action can make a real difference to the health of our marine environment.’
William Caley, fisherman and manager of Isle of Man Seafood Products Limited said:
‘We fully support the scheme and plan to collect and dispose of the marine litter as it is brought into Peel. We look forward to working together to develop this venture.’
Dr David Beard, CEO of the Manx Fish Producers Organisation said:
‘The Manx fishing industry fully endorses this initiative. Our industry relies on a clean and sustainable marine environment for our livelihood and anything we can do to assist this process deserves our full support.’
The initiative will also see a review of bins and their placement and labelling at Manx ports to discourage misuse from the public.
Operational or galley waste generated on board, which is the responsibility of the vessel, will continue to go through established harbour waste management systems.