About the Project

Circular Ocean is a three year project (2015-2018) that aims to Inspire communities to realise the hidden economic opportunities of discarded fishing nets and ropes in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region.

In pursuit of innovative and sustainable solutions for marine plastic waste, the Circular Ocean project seeks to inspire enterprises and entrepreneurs to realise the hidden opportunities of discarded fishing nets and ropes in the Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) region. As increasing levels of marine litter is particularly pertinent to the NPA region, the Circular Ocean project will act as a catalyst to motivate and empower remote communities to develop sustainable and green business opportunities that will enhance income generation and retention within local regions. Through transnational collaboration and eco-innovation, Circular Ocean will develop, share and test new sustainable solutions to incentivise the collection and reprocessing of discarded fishing nets and assist the movement towards a more circular economy.

Regional Challenges

PERIPHERAL LOCATION The remoteness of the NPA region can restrict access to markets, enterprise opportunities, and potential collaborators and more peripheral areas suffer from out-migration, brain drain and ageing populations.

LIMITED BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES High transport costs and the inability to reach critical mass leads to a challenging business environment.

INCREASE IN SEA TRAFFIC As a result of climate change, there is now greater accessibility to the Northern Sea Route, resulting in increased sea traffic and greater amounts of marine litter.

LOW POPULATION DENSITY The average population density of habitable regions of the NPA region is very low compared to the European Union average.

NEGATIVE IMPACT ON TOURISM Coastal regions across the NPA area are renowned for their outstanding natural beauty. Increasing levels of marine litter impinge on the ability of the NPA region to retain its appeal to tourists and residents.

MANAGING WASTE MATERIALS Remote regions of the NPA area face important decisions on how they deal with materials which may not have been produced or used locally, but have been discarded onto their shores and seas.

Environmental impact of marine litter

The total economic damage of marine plastic waste is estimated at almost €12 billion per year including environmental, commercial and clean-up costs.

Up to 12.7 million tons of marine plastic waste enters the oceans each year due to poor waste management practices.

Experts believe that entanglement by fishing-related gear is the number 1 threat to seabirds, turtles and marine mammals.

Over 33,000 nets are estimated to be lost in selected European fisheries annually due to bad weather conditions, gear conflict and ocean currents.

By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans.Long term effects on marine life include impacts on marine ecosystems that ultimately leads to loss of biodiversity.

Plastic material absorbs persistent organic pollutant from its ambient environment, which if ingested by marine organisms, may enter the food web.

Our Approach

Results from Circular Ocean’s research will be used to inform scientists, politicians, entrepreneurs and local communities on how to develop sustainable solutions to the problem of derelict fishing gear. Circular Ocean will develop the following resources for key stakeholders also: A Marine Litter Environment Impact and Lifecycle Handbook Reports on the environmental impact of discarded fishing nets Research feasibility and cost/benefit analysis of fishnet collection for export and recycling A guide to supportive policy and regional frameworks regarding innovation Policy and institutional barrier reports