Action to tackle marine litter at ports in Northern Ireland

Dr Annika Clements, our Regional Manager in Northern Ireland, talks about an upcoming project which aims to drive recycling efforts in the area.
Photo of Kilkeel harbour
Kilkeel Harbour

Over the past year work has been underway to develop a project to reduce marine litter at Northern Ireland’s largest fishing ports.

The Marine Litter Management project was born from a meeting of the Northern Ireland Fishermen’s Safety Forum. At a meeting last year members agreed that action was needed to address litter in the ports. Northern Ireland Fishery Harbour Authority (NIFHA) is the lead applicant in an EMFF funding bid for the project via the South East Area Fisheries Local Action Group (SEA FLAG). The Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation and Seafish have committed match funding to the project, which is also supported by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

Through the project, NIFHA will bring in a new temporary project officer. Over the next two years this post will act as a central point of contact for efforts to tackle marine litter at three County Down fishing harbours – Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel.

The role will cover a number of aspects in a bid to tackle marine litter around the ports. Some of their work will focus on clean-up efforts including co-ordinating local beach cleans. Another key part of the job will be proactively working with local fishing and seafood businesses. This will involve promoting and monitoring the Fishing for Litter scheme and creating simple messaging to help those using the harbours to understand best practice in waste management.

The project officer will also be tasked with developing a plan to help the harbours deal with end-of-life fishing gear. To do this they will look at what can be learned from projects in other areas and carry out an economic viability assessment on some of the different options.  

A key element of the project will be to investigate and develop ways of increasing the recycling rates of waste generated by the fishing fleet. The project officer will consider how much harbour waste can be recycled and what infrastructure is needed for this.

This project offers a fantastic opportunity for the local seafood industry to engage with the harbour authority in a co-ordinated effort to tackle marine litter. It is hoped that the new role will be advertised later in the summer. NIFHA will be sharing more information about the post and the project in due course.
I’d encourage anyone interested in the project to look out for updates from them but you can also get in touch with me with any queries in the meantime and I’ll pass them on.