The Western Development Commission convenes meeting in Galway to discuss the issues of marine plastics arising from waste fishing gear, the circular economy and the economic opportunities.

Caption- WDC, their EU partners and regional stakeholders meet to discuss forming solutions to the issues of waste fishing nets, ropes and components.From left to right: Ian Brannigan(WDC), Anita McKeown(UCD), Mike Devane(AEC), Lucy Hunt(UCD)Catherine Barrett(BIM), Siv Marina Flø Grimstad(NTNU), Martin Charter(CfSD), Richard Glavee-Geo(NTNU),Neil James(ERI), Stephen McCormack(WDC), Clodagh Barry(WDC), Margaret Rae(Marine Institute

International experts from Norway, Denmark and the UK gathered in Galway on June 12/13 at a special symposium convened by the Western Development Commission (WDC), to debate and share views on marine plastic waste and the development of a blue circular economy, focusing on Fishing Nets, Ropes and Components.

The partners from the Blue Circular Economy initiative www.bluecirculareconomy.eu met with academics, researchers, representatives from the fishing industry as well as national stakeholders with involvement with our coastlines to discuss the opportunities for the local innovation ecosystems and for SMEs to attain greater market reach from their locality. This was the first time for this consortium to meet in Ireland.

“We learned from today that there is a significant opportunity to apply circular economy principles to thousands of tonnes of marine plastics through recycling and repurposing, which could lead to opportunities for marine communities” said Ian Brannigan , Head of Regional Development WDC. “The WDC see this as an ideal way to shepard resources to grow and safeguard for the region’s future”

A special briefing was organised in the Harbour Master Boardroom overlooking Galway Bay on Wednesday, where current and potential Irish stakeholders were given the opportunity to understand the model of Marine Innovation Clusters from Innovation Norway.

Údarás na Gaeltachta kindly played host to the consortium at their headquarters in Furbo on day two, where Mark de Faoite(Director of Enterprise, Employment, Property & Engineering) outlined their plans for the Páirc na Mara Marine Innovation Park in Galway. The group then heard from Professor Martin Charter and Associate Professor Richard Glavee-Geo, who discussed the Blue Circular Economy project in more detail and what the next steps in developing local innovation systems and supply chains are, and, how potential products might be marketed. The group will be hosting an innovation workshop in Galway sometime in January 2020.

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, with partners in Ireland, UK, Demark and Norway, will promote and support companies to create sustainable industries in the recovery and recycling of used fishing netting into commercial products. The Blue Circular Economy project is funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic 2014-2020 programme.

For further information, please contact Stephen McCormack, BCE Project Officer stephenmccormack@wdc.ie or call   087 7113621