What is Fishing For Litter?

KIMO's Fishing For Litter is an imaginative yet simple initiative that aims to reduce marine litter by involving one of the key stakeholders, the fishing industry.




The Project

The project is designed to reduce the amount of marine litter in our seas by physically removing it and to highlight the importance of good waste management amongst the fleet. Fishing for Litter is a simple idea. Participating vessels are given hardwearing bags to collect marine litter that is caught in their nets during their normal fishing activities.

Filled bags are deposited in participating harbours on the quayside where they are moved by harbour staff to a dedicated skip or bin for disposal. Operational or galley waste generated on board, and hence the responsibility of the vessel, continues to go through established harbour waste management systems.

The project provides the bags and covers all waste costs.

History of the project

The Fishing for Litter initiative was originally started by the North Sea Directorate of the Dutch Government in co-operation with the Dutch Fisheries Association in March 2000.

The aim of the initiative was to clear the North Sea of litter, by providing bags to bring ashore litter that was gathered in nets as part of fishing activities and disposing of it responsibly on land.

Pilot schemes, operated by KIMO International, were run as part of the Save the North Sea Project in Scotland, Sweden, Netherlands and Denmark until 2005. The Scottish project was set up at this time and has remained active ever since. Fishing for Litter South West was set up in 2009 after fishing industry representatives from Cornwall approached KIMO UK to see if the project could be replicated in Cornwall and Devon.

KIMO continues to operate Fishing for Litter projects in the Netherlands, the Isle of Man, the Faroe Islands and the Baltic Sea. Affiliated pilot projects have also taken place in Milford Haven, Wales and Northern Ireland.


There is a growing recognition by policy makers that Fishing for Litter is a useful tool in tackling marine litter.

The European Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires member states to ensure that "Properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environments" and notes that, "Fishing for Litter offers a tried and tested tool that can be used to both remove litter from the sea and raise awareness of the issue".

The OSPAR recommendation 2010/19 promotes the establishment of Fishing for Litter by Contracting parties and the recent OSPAR Marine Litter Regional Action Plan further recommends that it "Strengthen the existing OSPAR recommendation 2010/19 on the reduction of marine litter through implementation of fishing for litter initiatives."

Strategic Direction 1 of the recently published Scottish Marine Litter Strategy commits to "Promote the KIMO Fishing for Litter project, amongst ports not currently members of the scheme, and align with OSPAR recommendation to promote establishment of the scheme". While Strategic Direction 2 states it will "Expand KIMO Fishing for Litter initiative to contribute to a reduction in marine litter. Implement the OSPAR recommendation to promote the establishment of KIMO Fishing for Litter initiatives in fishing harbours and facilitate: The raising of awareness of the social, economic and ecological impacts of marine litter among fishermen and within the fishing industry; A change in waste management practices within the fishing industry; The direct removal of marine litter from the marine environment in the course of normal fishing activity".

For more information see www.kimointernational.org

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