Ghost nets and plastic pirates – The emerging opportunities from marine plastic recyclates off our Western shores

The Western Development Commission (WDC), met with an international group of experts at a transnational workshop on ways of engaging SMEs in novel opportunities for recycling marine waste plastics e.g. end of life fishing nets, and using them as a valuable feedstock for new or regenerated products.

“The issues of responsibility for our marine environment and opportunities for regional SMEs that such an approach represents is something the WDC is pursuing with other EU maritime facing organisations” said Ian Brannigan, head of regional development , WDC.

This workshop on the grounds of the Danish Technical University (DTU), in Copenhagen, reviewed issues of marine plastic recyclates such as “ghost nets” or end of life fishing gear as well as novel solutions to the issue of marine plastics such as the “plastic pirates” initiative.


Speaking at the meeting, Siv Marina Flø Grimstad (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU) outlined to the gathering the concept of “how we need to contribute to a more sustainable society” in our approach to marine plastic recycling and how initiatives such as the Blue Circular Economy ( may achieve this through identifying and engaging marine plastic recycling clusters in the identified regions (Norway and Ireland).

Neil James (Environmental Research Institute) outlined the impact of plastic upon our habitat and fauna “Over 56% of our bird species globally has been negatively impacted by waste plastics, ingestion, entanglement etc”.

Esther Savina (DTU), outlined emerging possibilities on biodegradable fishing nets based on biodegradable resins, which offered potential longer term solutions.

At the conclusion it was outlined how under the auspices of the Blue Circular Economy initiative , potential SMEs will be identified and engaged in the coming 18 months to support the development of marine plastics recycling clusters. The WDC will lead this work, with regional stakeholders, in the West of Ireland.



About Blue Circular Economy.      

Established in 2018 the Blue Circular Economy is a partnership between Western Development Commission, Technical University of Denmark, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, The Centre for Sustainable Design® at UCA, and the Environmental Research Institute.  The three year programme is funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic 2014-2020 programme.  Full details on