From April – June 2019, Betheney Wills, a PhD Researcher from CECAN/University of Surrey undertook a policy internship with the Marine and Fisheries Team at the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The aim of the internship was to gain a better understanding of fishermen’s perspectives on Abandoned Lost and Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) in the seas around the UK. Betheney’s final report has now been published by Defra, and can be accessed here.
The study used the commercial fishing Harbour of Newlyn, Cornwall as the case study site. With assistance from supportive gatekeepers at the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation, face-to-face interviews were held with local fishermen and a representative from the local Harbour Authority. To build understanding of the circular economy of fishing gear, question topics included the sourcing of gear, situations where gear loss could occur, recovery strategies, re-use recycle or refuse options and innovative solutions to reduce ALDFG in the future.
The study discovered that many factors influence ALDFG, from concern for the environmental and economic costs to behaviour motivated by traditional practices and contemporary culture. Findings from this study will inform Defra’s evidence base as part of their strategy to reduce single-use plastic and marine pollution.