“The Sea is Also Cleaned by Us!”: fishers and families take action on World Oceans Day

On June 8, 2024, in celebration of World Oceans Day, the fishing community of Vila do Conde and Póvoa de Varzim in Portugal came together for a beach clean-up event titled “The Sea is Also Cleaned by Us!”. Organised by APMSHM, a partner of the NETTAG+ project, this initiative aimed to raise awareness about marine litter and highlight the crucial role fishers play in collecting and properly disposing of marine debris.

Around 70 volunteers, including fishers and their families spanning multiple generations, cleaned Praia do Peixe in Póvoa de Varzim and Prainha beach in Vila do Conde. Equipped with two bags each – one for recyclables (yellow bag) and one for general waste (white bag) – the participants worked diligently to clean “their” beaches.

Over 180 kg of litter were collected, including different domestic items (e.g., plastic food packaging, glass bottles, foam boxes), but also several maritime ropes, fishing nets, octopus pots, a 5-meter tube and even a streetlight. A big effort that was well rewarded with a delicious lunch prepared by the fishers and live music, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose.

Highlighting the role of fishers in tackling marine pollution, Bruna Silva from APMSHM said: “Fishers want to catch fish, not trash! But more and more fishers are bringing to shore the litter they involuntarily catch in their nets, providing a service that most people are unaware of. They become guardians of our ocean.”

Sandra Ramos from CIIMAR, the NETTAG+ project coordinator, added: “When you are at sea, unfortunately, you no longer only catch fish, but also a lot of trash. At NETTAG+ we want to work with the fishing sector to find ways to solve these problems. But there’s something we can all do by cleaning beaches and avoiding litter from entering the sea again.”

The event was organised within the NETTAG+ project, an EU Mission Ocean and Waters project funded by the Horizon Europe program and coordinated by CIIMAR. Through collaborative work between the fisheries industry, scientists and NGOs, the NETTAG+ project is developing three solutions to prevent marine litter derived from fisheries activities, avoid loss of fishing gears, and mitigate the harmful impacts of lost fishing gear.

Scroll to Top