The North Western Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC) and the Market Advisory Council (MAC), two of the eleven European Advisory Councils providing the EU Commission with strategic advice on sustainable fisheries management, hosted a Workshop on Plastics and the Seafood Supply Chain in Brussels on the 7th of November 2019. The workshop brought together members of several Advisory Councils with experts and scientists to explore in both broader and greater detail the impact of plastics on fisheries and market actors.
Welcoming the participants Giuseppe Ferrandino, Vice-Chair of the PECH Committee stated that “This workshop comes at a crucial moment in the fight against plastic pollution of the oceans. If we don’t act now, then by 2050 there will be more plastics in the ocean than fish.”
Participants heard from the European Commission outlining future policies stating that sustainability is a first priority for the EU Commission which is reflected in EU President Ursula von der Leyen’s political agenda.
Experts from the FAO and OSPAR identified that plastic is the most widely used material on the planet. Nearly 80% of plastics entering the oceans comes from land-based sources. However, microplastics from food products and beverages likely only constitute a minor exposure pathway for plastic particles and associated chemicals to humans with consumption of seafood representing a miniscule part (Prof Brian Quinn, University West of Scotland).
Speakers from Ireland, Spain and Portugal provided insight into national and EU projects on curbing plastic litter in the marine environment, on removing plastic from the marine environment and on new developments in the world of packaging concluding that packaging solutions must be assessed for their true circularity to avoid replacing one problem with another.
The seafood industry along its entire supply chain is not only fully aware of the issues relating to plastic pollution in the marine environment but is part of the solution. Prevention and removal of marine litter are vital with awareness raising and education being key to solving the pollution problem.
This workshop is the first in a series of workshops in which the Advisory Councils are addressing the challenges placed on the seafood sector with the introduction of the SUP Directive, the Port Reception Facilities Directive as well as the EU Circular Economy Package overall. This work will result in detailed consensus advice to the European Commission on practicalities of the implementation as well as in showcasing best practice and the enormous contributions made by the sector in safeguarding the marine environment from plastic pollution.
The next workshop “Re-Imagining Fishing Gear in a Circular Economy” will be held in Brussels on the 28th of January 2020 organised by the NWWAC in conjunction with the Baltic Sea AC, North Sea AC and Pelagic AC.