1 November 2018
By Bryan Smyth
Current research estimates approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans each year, with the Ellen McArthur Foundation citing there is likely to be more plastic than fish in our seas by 2050. The issue of marine plastics is particularly pertinent to Ireland, as an island nation we have a marine area that is ten times the size of its land area above the sea, with the majority of our population living within 50km of the ocean! Marine plastics and more specifically the scourge of lost and discarded fishing gear was the focus of Macroom based project “Circular Ocean”, who were recently awarded the 2018 Pakman Award for achievements in Environmental Education & Awareness.
The Pakman Awards are national awards that recognise excellence in waste management and recycling among businesses, organisations, community groups and initiatives in Ireland.
The awards ceremony took place at the InterContinental Dublin Hotel on Thursday, October 25th and under the watchful eye of MC Caitriona Perry of RTE, saw 400 representatives from leading businesses, organisations and community groups come together to celebrate their positive impacts on our environment. The Circular Ocean team accepted their award from Minister for State for Rural Affairs & National Resources, Seán Canney TD.
Ted O’Leary, Environment Directorate, Cork County Council expressed delight that the great work of the Circular Ocean project team has been recognised with this Pakman Award. “The council very much endorses and supports the aims of the Circular Ocean project. The promotion of a sustainable circular economy in relation to marine waste is an objective very much in keeping with emerging international, EU and national waste management policy. Controlling marine waste is of necessity a priority for Cork which with a coastline of 1,100km is the largest coastal county in the country. Maintaining a pristine marine environment is essential, not just to the economy of Cork, but to the well being of current and future generations. We will look to ensure that the lessons and recommendations of the project are now supported across the many functions of the council.”
Funded under the ERDF Interreg VB Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) Programme, the focus of the Circular Ocean project is to seek opportunities for recovery and reuse of waste Fishing Nets & Rope, with a view to benefiting local economies. The initial concept emerged from Macroom E Enterprise Centre in Cork through SMILE Resource Exchange where members highlighted the significant problem posed by waste fishing nets in Ireland and internationally. Macroom E, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cork County Council, is the sole Irish partner and had responsibility for the Communications activities surrounding the project. Circular Ocean’s communications strategy centred around enlightening coastal communities, industry and policymakers of the potentially detrimental environmental impacts of end of life fishing nets and rope, while inspiring the diversion of waste fishing gear materials from our oceans and landfills for reuse, recycling and new product development. Partners have also investigated the potential applications of end of life fishing nets in areas such as 3D printing and as a replacement for new plastic products the construction sector, as well as providing expert guidance to SME’s on new business opportunities. Learn more at www.circularocean.eu