Toolkit: Derelict Fishing Gear Retrieval

This Toolkit is developed for organisations that want to initiate a project to reduce the impact of derelict fishing gear (DFG) on the marine environment. When setting up a DFG project, this Toolkit will support you in the planning and implementation of your project. This Toolkit does not provide a single recipe for how you should develop your project. Instead, it points out some important issues you should think of when setting up your project and provides advice on how to overcome problems that you may face when setting up a DFG project.  

The whole Toolkit is also available for download in a printable version.

DFG is a common marine litter item and is commonly defined as abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear. DFG projects are initiatives under which measures are developed and taken to reduce the impact of DFG. Such measures can be broadly divided in three categories:

  1. Prevention (avoid the occurrence of DFG in the environment);
  2. Mitigation (reduce the impact of DFG in the environment); and
  3. Remediation (remove DFG from the environment).

DFG monitoring and raising awareness are cross-cutting measures that can complement a DFG project.

While preventive measures are the most effective way to tackle DFG, a mix of the three categories of measures is needed to successfully reduce the DFG problem. While this Toolkit aims to provide an understanding of a range of possible prevention and mitigation measures, the emphasis will be on practical guidance on remediation, and particularly on the retrieval of DFG.

The removal of DFG involves fishermen and qualified divers locating derelict fishing gear. They use various technologies to locate DFG, such as side-scan sonar for sea-bed surveys, map locations on the basis of interviews with fisherman, or information systems that track lost gear, and remove the gear from the marine environment using specialist equipment. The retrieved nets are disposed of or recycled in an environmentally sound manner. These projects can be combined with related activities, such as beach cleaning. While this Toolkit does not specifically cover these additional activities, they are briefly described at the end of the Toolkit.

This Toolkit broadly follows the different steps of a DFG project. The section on Why set up a DFG project discusses impacts and causes of DFG. The section on Planning your project focuses on the first steps you should take in planning your project, such as understanding your local situation (type of sea bottom; hot spots, such as ship wrecks), defining the objectives for your project and preparing your project budget. Thesection on Project participants helps you to engage stakeholders in your project and describes their potential role in the project. The section on Implementing your project provides practical advice on each step of a DFG project, from collecting the nets to managing how they will be treated or disposed of once they returned to shore. The section on Project monitoring and evaluation, provides advice on measuring the progress and achievements of your project. The section on Funding for your project provides guidance on how to seek funding and approach sponsors for your project. The section on Complementary activities, highlights some other marine litter activities that might complement your DFG project.

The Toolkit also provides a set of ready-made tools that you can tailor to the specifics of your project. These tools are provided as downloadable attachments. 

The guidance in this Toolkit is prepared by the MARELITT team, based on a review of reports from DFG research and retrieval projects, the assessment of existing DFG projects and the lessons learnt through supporting the initiation of a new DFG project in the Baltic Sea. This new DFG project (MARELITT Baltic) is being initiated by three organisations with previous DFG experience: WWF Poland, Keep the Estonian Sea Tidy (KEST) and the Swedish municipality of Simrishamn, as a member of KIMO Baltic. This Toolkit has greatly benefitted from the review and comments from the representatives of these organisations: Piotr Predki (WWF Poland) Marek Press (KEST) and Vesa Tschernij (Simrishamn). In addition, valuable comments have been provided by two experts on DFG retrieval, Ryszard Malik and Per-Olof Larsson, who have worked previously with WWF Poland and the municipality of Simrishamn, respectively, on DFG retrieval issues.

Toolkit for setting up Derelict Fishing Gear retrieval projects