The Blue Circular Economy (BCE) international conference, Transforming Waste Fishing Gear into Business Opportunities, took place on 5 October 2020. Like many of this year’s events, the existence of pandemic-related movement restrictions led to the event being held in a webinar format.
Chaired by Professor Martin Charter of the UK’s University for the Creative Arts (UCA), the conference featured presentations on a diverse range of topics including the EU policy context surrounding the use of waste fishing gear, practical lessons in the retrieving and recycling of nets in Greenland, and updates on various elements of the BCE project work packages.
The keynote address was given by Joel Baziuk, Secretariat of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), who spoke on the issue of ghost gear as well as presenting evidence and lessons from a GGGI member initiative in Steveston, Canada. The conference also featured two online speed networking sessions in which attendees were able to mix with presenters and discuss the day’s topics while also establishing connections which will help to connect actors in the spheres of industry, public policy, academia and research, and community.
Speaking afterwards, chairperson Professor Martin Charter commented on the quality of the conference and its success in identifying some of the major areas requiring further investigation by the BCE project team and others:
“Today’s conference was excellent and identified a number of important lessons which will inform future efforts to generate economic opportunity from waste fishing gear. In addition to targeted research and development projects aimed at plugging gaps in existing knowledge, conference presenters also pointed to immaturity in value chains and the need for behavioural change among stakeholders across the system as areas requiring further effort and innovative solutions.
The conference also made clear that the successful transition to a circular economic model in the production/assembly and use of fishing gear (both fin and shell-fish) will require a focusing on value retention in economic and social systems with great focus on product life extension through repair, reusability, remanufacturing and finally recycling. Circularity will increasingly need to be embedded in the design and development phase of fishing gear and take-back systems will need to be organised to ensure product life extension.”
For those who were unable to attend the conference itself, or those who would like to re-visit the presentations once again, the full list of presenters and slide decks from each presentation have now been made available on the website of the UCA’s Centre for Sustainable Design (CfSD) at this link.