The new fishing net recycling proposals announced this morning by the EU as part of a larger package addressing plastics wastes have two main parts; EPR and net tagging.

EPR or Extended Producer Responsibility is the same instrument as used for plastic packaging whereby the producer of the plastic product must contribute towards infrastructure for its recycling or disposal. The means through which the EU is proposing to regulate that is a new version of the Ports Reception Facilities Regulations. Essentially this means that net producers (not fishers) will have to fund net waste collection and disposal infrastructure. Previously it has been normal for ports to charge for waste disposal, whether as a discrete charge or bundled with other harbour fees.

Net tagging is firmly aimed at fishers to enhance the existing responsibility to attempt lost net retrieval or report lost nets alongside fishing activity. There are already rules in the Fisheries Control Regulation that requires marking gear and carrying retrieval equipment on board. This proposal suggests a tightening of the implmentation of those rules, especially around reporting.

The EU says that the aim here is to address an incentive gap whereby fishers were being discouraged from managing end-of-life and lost nets in an environmentally optimal manner.

Our analysis is this;

The big change here is that ports will be able to get funding for new Port Recpetion Facilities through a new mechanism, effectively creating a new market for local recycling infrastructure.

The EPR on end-of-life nets puts our containerised recycling solution on the market as a new kind of self-sustaining port reception facility. There have already been enquiries from net producers. We now expect more. All the larger commercial fishing ports will have to manage end-of-life nets in a far more rigorous manner if/when the proposals become law.

Even ports that choose not to recycle within their own boundaries will have additional infrastructure challenges associated with end-of-life net management as tagged nets become assets/liabilities to be tracked.

There are, of course, both upsides and downsides to that but its difficult to see specific downsides for Fishy Filaments Ltd and its product lines.