Government assignment on the collection and recycling of fishing gear and recreational boats (2022)

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The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM) carries out clean-up operations to recover historically abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) or “ghost gear" from the ocean and recycle these in line with the transition to a circular and non-toxic economy.

In SwAM’s regulation letter for 2022, the agency has been given a government assignment on the collection and recycling of fishing gear and recreational boats

The government assignment

  • SwAM must carry out clean-up operations to collect historically lost and discarded fishing gear and recycle these in line with the transition to a circular and non-toxic economy.
  • SwAM must, with the support of surveys and investigations, enable efficient and prioritized clean-up operations.
  • SwAM must also promote the collection and recycling of recreational boats as well as carry out information campaigns to prevent the loss of fishing gear.
  • SwAM must map how big the problem with end-of-life recreational boats is from a life-cycle perspective and propose measures to recycle them. This part of the assignment must be reported to the Government Offices (the Ministry of the Environment) by September 1, 2023 at the latest.

The government assignment has many subprojects. Figure 1 shows a schematic view of how the different subprojects are connected. The subprojects are lined up below as they come into operation over time.

Schematic view of all subprojects under the government assignment to collect and recycle fishing gear and recreational boats.

Schematic view of all subprojects under the government assignment to collect and recycle fishing gear and recreational boats.

Subprojects

The purpose of this specific subproject, under the government assignment, is for the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment (HMI) to bring forth a legal investigation so that SwAM can implement strategic decisions for the work with marine litter, specifically lost fishing gear and end-of-life recreational boats. It is also a subproject to collect and recycle fishing gear and recreational boats.

The goal is an analysis of current relevant legislation, to identify possible changes and clarify obstacles and opportunities in the legislation to increase the disposal of marine litter, specifically lost fishing gear and end-of-life recreational boats.

It is also a clarification of which actors that can be held responsible to take measures and that are by law allowed to act, by i.e. directing injunctions against responsible.

The subproject contributes to the interim report SwAM will present to the Ministry of the Environment on 1 September 2023 and to the final report on 1 February 2025.

If you have any questions about HMI's assignment, please contact Kristjan Laas: kristjan.laas@law.gu.se

If you have any questions about the government assignment, please contact Lisa Bredahl Nerdal: lisa.bredahlnerdal@havochvatten.se

Recreational boats

There is about one million recreational boats in Sweden today. Some of these boats are abandoned. It is unclear how many, why they were left and where they are located geographically. Both hull and other parts can pose potential environmental hazards. Abandoned boats are sometimes left in places where they litter and pose a direct danger to other boats, people and wildlife.

SwAM has tasked Ecoloop AB to map the extent of the problem with abandoned boats from a life-cycle perspective and to propose measures to recycle more.

The assignment takes place within the framework of SwAM's government assignment "Collection and recycling of fishing gear and recreational boats".

If you have any questions about Ecoloop's assignment, please contact Bo Svedberg: bo.svedberg@ecoloop.se

If you have any questions about the government assignment, please contact Lisa Bredahl Nerdal: lisa.bredahlnerdal@havochvatten.se

There is currently no system for producer responsibility for recreational boats. The responsibility for scrapping lies with the last owner and the costs associated with this can mean that end-of-life recreational boats are not disposed or recycled in an environmental friendly way.

During 2018-2020, SwAM procured and started a cooperation to subsidy the scrapping of boats, which led to a large number of boats being handed in for recycling. Based on the successful investment, additional funds have been allocated.

As a result, there is today a national system that collect and scrap end-of-life boats in a cost-effective and sustainable way, see more on their webpage Return your boat (Båtretur). However, it is believed that few boats are scrapped at the owner's initiative. The scrapping that takes place is financed by the state through SwAM.

As a result, there is today a national system that collect and scrap end-of-life boats in a cost-effective and sustainable way, see more on their webpage Return your boat (Båtretur). However, it is believed that few boats are scrapped at the owner's initiative. The scrapping that takes place is financed by the state through SwAM.

There are approximately one million recreational boats in Sweden, of which over 100,000 are over 40 years old and approaching their best-before date. Most of them are end-of-life plastic boats.The number of unseaworthy boats is estimated at 62,000, while the number of abandoned boats is estimated at around 2,000. Plastic items are the most common litter in the ocean (60-90 percent of the litter) and can consist of everything from small plastic pieces to barrels, lost fishing gear and discarded recreational boats.

Fishing gear

SwAM has worked with sustainable clean-up operations of lost fishing gear both in the Baltic Sea and along the Swedish west coast. Since lost fishing gear can be found along the entire coast of Sweden, there is a great need to expand operations to cover more areas.

In order to bring about an increased commitment regarding the work of mapping lost fishing gear and removing them from the seabed, information and knowledge about this problem needs to increase. It is important to spread knowledge about:

  • that lost and discarded fishing gear contributes to “ghost fishing”
  • best methods to retrieve lost and discarded fishing gear
  • how to take care of lost and discarded fishing gear after retrieval

There are also administrative obstacles that are good to know about, such as procurement procedures, reporting of losses and retrieved fishing gear etc.

The municipality of Simrishamn has very valuable knowledge and experience in this regard from the Interreg project Marelitt Baltic and the methodology Marelitt Blueprint that was developed there. The purpose of this subproject is to transfer knowledge about this methodology to more municipalities and actors who can carry out cleanup operations of lost fishing gear.

The project is intended to give the municipality of Simrishamn the opportunity to transfer knowledge internally and to a number of selected municipalities and procured actors, to continue developing the Marelitt Blueprint 2.0 methodology and to assist with information for the development of SwAM's guidance for cleanup operations. The municipality of Simrishamn leads the knowledge transfer to these municipalities or procured actors, who in turn perform clean-up operations of lost fishing gear along their coastline.

HMI, on behalf of SwAM, produced a report on the impact of ghost fishing on the fishery resources, in which it was clear that cleanup operations need to become more cost-effective in order for them to be economically viable.

If you have any questions about the knowledge transfer project, please contact Vesa Tschernij: vesa.tschernij@simrishamn.se

If you have any questions about the government assignment, please contact Lisa Bredahl Nerdal: lisa.bredahlnerdal@havochvatten.se

The municipality of Simrishamn has very valuable knowledge and experience from the Interreg project Marelitt Baltic, which they will now spread in project form during 2022-2024 to interested or other procured actors, regions and municipalities.

An agreement has been written between SwAM and the municipality of Simrishamn regarding the mapping of historical losses and to spread knowledge about lost fishing gear to a number of selected municipalities or procured actors.

During 2022, SwAM has entered into an agreement with the region of Halland and Nordanstig municipality and procured the company GN Skog Mark Hav AB to carry out sustainable clean-up operations after lost fishing gear and participate in the knowledge transfer project according to the Marelitt Blueprint on sustainable clean-up operations after lost fishing gear.

If you have any questions about the project, please contact Vesa Tschernij: vesa.tschernij@simrishamn.se

If you have any questions about the government assignment, please contact Lisa Bredahl Nerdal: lisa.bredahlnerdal@havochvatten.se

On June 13, 2022, the Swedish Board of Agriculture sent a grant application to co-finance cleanup operations within the 2014-2020 marine and fisheries program, through national co-financing of the program "Collect lost fishing gear and marine litter".

The project is expected to contribute to SwAM’s government assignment on the collection and recycling of fishing gear and recreational boats. SwAM must submit a final report of the results of the assignment to the Government Offices (Ministry of the Environment) no later than February 1, 2025. The project is also expected to contribute to Sweden's first action plan for plastic as a big step to be at the forefront of climate change. The EMFAF project lasted from 2022-06-13 until 2022-12-31.

If you have any questions about the government assignment, please contact Lisa Bredahl Nerdal.

Through an announcement in 2022, SwAM gave municipalities the opportunity to apply for funds, from grant 1:4 remediation and restoration of contaminated areas, to nationally collect end-of-life fishing gear on land and recycle these in line with the transition to a circular and non-toxic economy.

An application was received from Sotenäs municipality. According to the application, which was received on June 1, 2022, the project is to run Fiskereturen 2.0, a collection service whose purpose is to receive end-of-life fishing gear and take care of these in an environmental friendly way. Sotenäs municipality has developed contacts and experience in the previous project Fiskereturen and now they will further develop the national initiative for the collection and recycling of end-of-life fishing gear.

The project is expected to contribute to SwAM’s government assignment on the collection and recycling of fishing gear and recreational boats. SwAM must submit a final report of the results of the assignment to the Government Offices (Ministry of the Environment) by February 1, 2025.

The project is also expected to strengthen the reuse/material recycling and ultimately energy recovery of fishing gear and thus contribute to Sweden's first action plan for plastics as a big step to be at the forefront of climate change. The project will last from 2022-06-01 until 2024-11-30.

If you have any questions about Fiskereturen 2.0, please contact David Fransson.

If you have any questions about the government assignment, please contact Lisa Bredahl Nerdal.

Accounting

SwAM must report annual results of the government assignment in the annual report for 2022 and 2023 and submit a final report of the result of the assignment to the Government Offices (Ministry of the Environment) no later than February 1, 2025.

Responsible unit

The Marine Management Unit

Published: 2022-12-06