Toolkit: Derelict Fishing Gear Retrieval, Implementing your project, Recycling and disposal

See also: Selection of locations | Timing of retrieval operations | Technical parameters for the vessels | Involving fishermen in retrieval | Involving divers in retrieval | Reception of DFG at the port | Monitoring DFG | Development of prevention and mitigation measures | Raising awareness of the causes and impact of DFG | Project communication

Your organisation should discuss DFG disposal and recycling options with the waste management company contracted by the participating ports, prior to starting any retrieval operation. Although your organisation may not have much scope for changing their waste management procedures, you should agree on cost effective and environmentally sound treatment options. If you cannot come to such terms with the waste management company that regularly services the port, you may have to contact other companies.

At the very least, the waste management company will need the following information about the DFG:

The recycling of as much plastic and metals of the retrieved nets as possible should be an important objective for your project. If the waste management company does not have a recycling solution, you should investigate recycling options with other companies. If recycling is not possible, incineration with energy recovery (polymer has a high calorific value) or landfilling, as the least desired option, would be the likely alternatives. The open air burning of nets should in all cases be avoided.

The fishing gear waste stream comprises not only retrieved DFG, but also non-operational gear. This used gear consists of both damaged, old gear and gear that is retired by fishermen who have left the industry. This non-operational gear accumulates in storage yards and has a high recycling potential due to vast quantities and homogenous composition of this waste stream. Combining non-operational gear and retrieved DFG may enhance recycling opportunities, as having a large, stable supply of recyclable material is crucial for a recycling program to work. Under your project, you could offer to fishermen to dispose of their non-operational gear waste at low to no-cost through a network of collection bins in port areas.

Barriers to recycling may include the fact that retrieved DFG will contain organic impurities in the form of remains of organisms attached to the nets and the fact that DFG is not a homogenous waste stream, but consists of various different materials (fibers, steel, metal and ropes). The nets therefore may have to be cleaned and the different materials may have to be separated prior to actual recycling. Only gear that meets the recycling company’s specifications should be delivered. Therefore, prior arrangements must be made with the recycling company.