Today marine litter (ML) is recognized as a major concern for the future of the sea. ML includes all anthropogenic material that has entered the marine environment by intentional or unintentional actions. Types of ML vary in their chemical composition and physical characteristics. Based on these characteristics and the size of the litter fragments, ML may accumulate in different abiotic and biotic matrices: sea surface, water column, shoreline, sea-floor, sea ice and biota.
Although it is often assumed that most ML is floating, covering wide areas and ending up on the shoreline, most eventually ends up on the sea-floor. Around 90% of ML found on the coastline comes from local sources. This is especially true for a semi-enclosed sea such as the Adriatic.
The ‘marGnet’ project focuses on ML from sea-based sources on the sea-floor and generated by the fisheries and aquaculture activities. This includes not only abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gears (ALDFG), but also all the litter that is generated by fishing and sea food product management, including ropes, mooring points, degraded nets and their components. In Europe, they account up to 27% of all ML (European Commission).
The ‘marGnet’ project proposes an holistic approach, combining actions to tackle the phenomenon of ML at all phases, from reduction and prevention, through the monitoring and quantification and the removal and recycling. Thereby, merging together the whole production chain of ML management – from scientific research to the development of new technological solutions for recycling.
Objectives of the ‘marGnet project are:
To set up and test multi-level solutions to monitor, map, prevent, remove and recycle ML from sea-based sources present on the sea-floor.
General aims of the ‘marGnet’ project are:
– Monitoring the presence of ML from sea-based sources especially from fisheries and aquaculture activities through combined multi-sensor high resolution acoustic mapping, data analysis, underwater surveys;
– Predicting accumulation hotspots of ML on the sea-floor, especially from fisheries and aquaculture activities, on a wide scale through the development of a predictive model, able to stimulate the dispersion of sinking ML;
– Promotion of the sustainable removal of marine litter from the sea-floor by capitalising and strengthening the removal protocols based on previous initiatives (the GHOST project);
– Improvement of the environmental sustainability and efficiency of the recycling process of ML by engineering a prototype that exploits low temperature pyrolysis method to transform the ML into an energy source with reasonable costs;
– Reduce the quantity of ML from fisheries and aquaculture activities by demonstrating the prototype in fishing port areas highlighting its usability, convenience and promoting an awareness and a change in the behaviour of fishermen towards sustainable practices;
– Improvement of the governance framework for the management of ML by providing decision supporting tools and best practise to policy makers.
To achieve the objectives, the ‘marGnet’ project works on two pilot sites located in the Northern Adriatic – the Venice Lagoon in Italy, and the Cres-Lošinj Archipelago in Croatia. These locations were chosen as they are both listed as Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) within the EU Natura 2000 Network. Additionally, these sites have two different types of sea-floor, so a range of field activities will be performed in both sandy and rocky bottoms, as well as in coastal and lagoon areas. Thus will improve the robustness and the replicability of the project.
Costs of the project action – 611.792 € / EU contribution granted – 488.575 € (80%)
Duration 24 months: Project start 01/01/2019 – Project end 31/12/2020