Reducing the impact of marine litter in the form of derelict fishing gear (DFG) on the Baltic Sea environment
The Baltic Sea Blueprint is designed to offer guidance to authorities working with DFG on national level, as well as practical instructions for retrieval operations.
The guidelines are divided into 4 pillars:
Pillar 1 is called ‘Mapping of DFG host areas’ and highlights awareness raising and earning the trust of fishers and divers. Additionally, pillar 1 concerns collecting data and information about DFG. Collecting data is an essential part of retrieving DFG. Focus should be on communication with local fisherman and where they believe the DFG are, as well as why they believe that. The goal is to understand where DFG accumulate and why. With the collected information, areas with possible findings of DFG can be mapped.
Pillar 2 is called ‘Retrieval of DFG’, and here the focus areas are environmental impact assessment, cultural heritage analysis during planning of clean-up activities and execution of clean-up activities at sea.
Clean-up activities at sea should always be carried out by experts and/or by people with prior experience. Clean-up activities based on dragging should be conducted by local fishers with experience in retrieval projects. Clean-up activities executed by divers should be conducted by divers with the proper diving-certificate and with previous experience with retrieval operations. There are a lot of risks regarding retrieval operations and safety must always be the priority.
Furthermore, depending on national legislation, retrieved fishing gear can be viewed as lost property. In that case, law enforcement needs to be contacted before the retrieved fishing gear can be recycled.
Pillar 3 ‘Waste management of retrieved DFG’ recommends an increase of collecting and pre-processing facilities in Baltic harbours, as well as material processing facilities and a functional transporting system.
It is important that retrieved fishing gear do not end up forgotten or as household waste due to the hazardous materials such as led, sink and copper in the gear. Apart from an increase of proper facilities, raising awareness is one way to make sure that retrieved fishing gear are handled the correct way.
Pillar 4 ‘Prevention’ highlights the importance of working togheter and beeing inclusive with fishers and the fishing sector. It is important to remember that their role is crucial and without them retrieval and prevention operations can’t be done.
Just as pillar 1 highlihts, understanding why is just as important as understanding where fishing gear are lost. Regional or local environmental factors are just as important to consider as human and technical factors.
For an in depth decription of all pillars, please read the full Baltic Sea Blueprint liked below.
The benefits of the Baltic Sea Blueprint are numerous. Not only does the Blueprint raise awareness regarding DFG and emphasize local knowledge, it also offers guidance to locating and retrieving DFG in a cost effective and sustainable way.
Marint centrum at the Municipality of Simrishamn, is conducting a project on behalf of The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM), in order to put the Baltic Sea Blueprint into practice and learn from real-life experience. The national implementation of the Baltic Sea Blueprint is called The Marelitt Blueprint 2.0, knowledge sharing and method development. The project takes place 2022-2024 and will generate valuable new knowledge in terms of local and national adaptations of the Marelitt Blueprint method.