In Europe, waste fishing gear (e.g. nets and ropes) are among the 10 most common marine litter items found on beaches, accounting for 27% of the total, according to the European Joint Research Centre. Fishing gear is made of plastic and has a short lifecycle, while waste management and recycling of fishing gear is very scarce, with few incentives and only limited systems in place at ports. This is exacerbated by the fact that fishing gear is not (yet) designed for reuse and recycling, and clean-up activities and targeted recycling projects fail to prevent further leakage into the sea.

Plastics are convenient and undoubtedly make our lives easier. They are cheap, light, durable and resistant to water and oil. What we often forget, however, is that they are a long-lasting material so when we use them to make products intended to have a very short life span – maybe even single-use - we are creating an unsustainable cycle. Our indiscriminate use of plastic has created a global waste management crisis whose consequences are now evident. Mountains of plastics float in the oceans and harm marine life, microplastics end up in our food and drinks, and even in our bodies. Recycling is often touted as the solution – but is it a real and viable solution?

European NGOs ClientEarth, Sciaena, Seas At Risk, The Fisheries Secretariat, and Our Fish react to this year’s proposal from the European Commission for 2020 fishing quotas in the North-East Atlantic, saying it finally takes some important steps in the right direction by proposing long overdue cuts for several vulnerable stocks. However, the NGOs also stress that this should have happened a long time ago, and that the proposal does not go far enough to restore all stocks above sustainable levels in line with the requirements of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and meet the now imminent 2020 deadline to end overfishing. (1)

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