By Maddalena Fava – Partner of Cooperativa Ziguele
Every year, millions of tons of waste end up in the sea or in the port area; this phenomenon derives from: poor management and collection of waste, lack of infrastructure, little knowledge about the serious consequences on the natural habitat.
Since the 1970s, the scientific community has been paying attention to this phenomenon, known as “marine litter“: “any durable material produced by man and abandoned in the marine environment; waste resulting from human activities whose destiny is to accumulate in the marine environment”.
Fishing, aquaculture and recreational waste includes special waste (batteries, motor oils), organic waste (undersized species, waste), waste collected at sea (plastic, glass, paper and cardboard, fabric, wood, ferrous material).
Currently, in the ports, this waste has a disorganized management: no space is available for storage and there are no operating methods for disposal. The reuse practices of the organic fraction are completely absent. Because of this, fishermen who collect waste from the sea, not finding suitable structures on the ground, abandon them back into the water, helping to increase environmental problems even in port areas.
PRiSMa-Med is a cooperation project funded on the Interreg Maritime program, born precisely to combat these problems.
The project involves several public and private partners located in three Italian regions, Liguria (Liguria Region, TICASS Scrl), Tuscany (Tuscany Region, Gestimar Scpa, CIRSPE) Sardinia (FLAG North Sardinia, Union Comuni Alta Gallura), and Corsica (Chamber of Commerce of Ajaccio and Southern Corsica).
The objective is the characterization of the waste produced by fishing activities or collected at sea and to reinsert them in the production cycle through feasibility studies of recovery chains.
We want to contribute to the reduction of waste and waste deriving from fishing, aquaculture and therefore from ports. To do this we need a system of governance, integrated management and development of the circular economy. It is important to ensure the improvement of environmental, logistic and hygienic-sanitary aspects of port areas, through a “waste supply chain” and the preparation of ad hoc ecological islands that follow guidelines for storage and disposal and identifying physical spaces suitable for the realization of the islands.
The phases of the project have been divided as follows:
• Monitoring and Classification: through direct interviews, sampling and data collection to assess the state of affairs relating to the type and quantity of waste, as well as analyzing in detail the methods currently adopted in ports for their treatment. To do this we will use the administration of targeted questionnaires.
• Creation of 4 pilot projects: these are aimed at evaluating the best operating methods for the management of the different types of waste produced and/or collected by fishermen and fish farmers:
o Liguria Region is focusing on organic waste and its re-use through a feasibility plan for the creation of special processing plants;
o Tuscany Region is working on the recovery of disused fishing nets with a collection point;
o FLAG North Sardinia is dealing with the re-use of the inorganic fraction deriving from shellfish farming, defining the quantity, volume, chemical composition, microbiological quality and the correct destination of the waste;
o Ticass with CCI2A Ajaccio is working on the management, waste disposal and preparation of ecological islands;
• Sharing and implementation of best practice protocols for urban and special waste management, for waste reuse and for blue / net.
The activities of PrismaMed, started in 2018, have already obtained as a first result a photograph of the existing situation collecting information on the quality and quantity of waste that are encountered at sea through fact-finding sessions, with over 700 completed questionnaires, addressed to subjects whose economic growth it depends on the sea as fishermen, fish farmers, boaters and port authorities.
Starting from the results of these studies, various protocols of good practices and criteria for the management of different waste will be developed, as well as application guidelines for the full implementation of the future “Salva Mare” decree, currently being studied by the Minister of Environment and Protection of the territory and the sea.