NEW REPORT THAT MARINE LITTER IS DECREASING
New report that marine litter is decreasing. The Green Deal approach in the Netherlands is an accessible way for companies, other stakeholder organizations, local and regional government and interest groups to work with Central Government on green growth and social issues. The aim is to remove barriers to help sustainable initiatives get off the ground and to accelerate this process where possible.
In order to track progress on the outcomes of these Green Deals, in 2019 the Dutch government contracted the engineering and consultancy firm Witteveen+Bos to conduct an evaluation of all 3 Green Deals dealing with marine litter. KIMO Netherlands and Belgium act as the secretariat for two of these Green Deals namely ‘Fisheries for a Clean Sea’ and ‘Clean Beaches’.
Over the last few years, it appears that Dutch beaches have been getting cleaner: less plastic is being found in the stomachs of fulmars and the OSPAR monitoring data show a significant decrease in the number of marine litter items such as ropes and nets.
The evaluation of these Green Deals comes at a good time for KIMO Netherlands and Belgium as the Green Deals are set to come to an end in 2020. The current evaluation helps set the tone and direction for discussions about collaborations past this date.
Fishing for a Clean Sea
In the Green Deal Fisheries for a Clean Sea, KIMO has been working towards a more integrated waste management system. A pre-condition for all projects has been to make the system convenient and user-friendly for fishermen. In recent years, for example, the ‘afvalspoorboekje’ (waste track book) has helped fishermen and ports to sort and dispose the various waste streams (fishing nets, dolly rope, household refuse, oil-bearing waste and Fishing for Litter) more effectively.
The evaluation shows that a majority of the partners wish to continue the cooperation. Importance is given to continuing successful elements in the future. The recommendation in the report is therefore in the time ahead to explore with partners what such cooperation could look like. This conversation has already with a fruitful discussion at the Central Consultation Green Deal Fisheries for a Clean Sea on 28 November 2019. The collaboration has yielded more benefit than the sum of its individual actions although many improvements are still possible in the ports.
The Clean Beaches Green Deal has 44 signatories which, although it poses logistical challenges, also presents excellent opportunities for networking and learning from each other. Numerous pilot projects are being carried out such as ‘Juttas’, ‘Expeditie Juttersgeluk’, ‘Plastic Playgrounds’ and ‘My Beach’. The secretariat is increasingly called upon to maintain a balance between commercial and public interests. Pilots and projects are developing into commercial products and a clean beach is also important for the market.
However, it is unclear whether this is a result of beach cleaning, proactively keeping beaches clean or external factors. The partners of the Green Deal indicate that good cooperation has a strong effect on promoting clean beaches. The Green Deal has also helped initiatives to have more impact and to get off the ground faster. Participants value the network very highly and it facilitates a lot of knowledge sharing. For these reasons, the report recommends that the network be actively maintained post the Green Deal period. There are still many opportunities to:
- improve local cooperation between municipalities and entrepreneurs,
- jointly address the cigarette butt problem and
- improve communication about the consequences of new legislation