Circular Ocean Workshop in Cork to Tackle the Challenge of Marine Plastics

As part of the award-winning transnational European Circular Ocean project, Irish Partners Cork County Council Initiative “Macroom E” welcomed delegates from Norway, Greenland, Scotland and England to join with local stakeholders at an event in County Hall, Cork to discuss the future challenges and opportunities around the subject of marine plastics with a particular focus on waste fishing nets and rope.

Circular Ocean Workshop Cork Marine Plastic

Circular Ocean Workshop at Cork County Hall: Sean O’Sullivan, South Cork Local Enterprise Office, Michelle Green, Macroom-E, Laurent Bontoux, EU Policy Lab and Martin Charter, Centre for Sustainable Design, UK. Credit Martin Walsh.

The session was led and facilitated by Dr. Laurent Bontoux from the EU Policy Lab with support from, Professor Martin Charter from The Centre for Sustainable Design. The Circular Ocean “Scenario Exploration Session” was organised by experts from the EU Policy Lab based at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Brussels. The approach for the event had been developed from a two year foresight study on the future of eco-industries and eco-innovation in Europe to 2035.

The issue of Marine Plastics is of ever increasing international concern, featuring heavily in the European Commission’s “Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)” which recommends “a circular economy approach which puts the emphasis on preventing waste and on recycling and reuse of materials and products in the first place, as the best solution to the marine litter problem”.

Circular Ocean Workshop Cork Marine Plastic

Showcasing innovative upcylcled bag: Julie Crowley, Macroom E, Levi Magyar, Mamukko, Attila Maygar, Mamukko and Michelle Green, Macroom-E. Credit Martin Walsh.

Management of end of life nets is a particularly pertinent issue for Cork, as seven of the top twenty ports nationally are located with the county.  The event exhibited a showcase of innovative products made from recycled nets including a local creation by Kinsale based Mamukko who incorporated end of life fishing nets into the design of one of their award winning upcycled bags.

Speaking at the event, Michelle Green, Communications Manager said “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to welcome representatives of the Cork fishing community to this unique event and hope that today’s discussion will provide a platform for future collaboration with other agencies in seeking solutions to the challenge of marine plastic waste”.

Prior to the Cork event, the Circular Ocean project was announced as one of the EU’s 60 emblematic projects in their recent “60 Years of Europe, 60 Projects For You” feature, compiled on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the signature of the Rome Treaty. The 60 projects were selected to illustrate projects co-financed by the EU’s main investment programme: EU Regional Policy, the goal of each one is to improve the lives of citizens who will benefit from them either directly or indirectly.

Circular Ocean Workshop Cork Marine Plastic

Local Stakeholders at Circular Ocean Workshop: Anthony Walsh, Union Hall Port, Julie Crowley, Macroom E and Johny Walsh, Kinsale Port. Credit Martin Walsh

Funded under the ERDF Interreg VB Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) Programme, the focus of the Circular Ocean project is to seek opportunities for recovery and reuse of waste Fishing Nets & Rope with a view to benefiting local economies.   In addition to highlighting the environmental impacts of waste Fishing Nets, the project is currently undertaking various streams of research into the potential applications of nets in areas such as wastewater treatment, 3D printing and as a reinforcement material in the construction sector.

Circular Ocean is also offering support to SME’s with a view to highlighting the prospective economic opportunities to SME’s in establishing a product/business utilising waste nets, while promoting the concept of circular economy and eco-innovation.

Partners involved in the Circular Ocean project include the Environmental Research Institute of the North Highland College UHI, Scotland; Macroom E, Ireland; The Centre for Sustainable Design, University for the Creative Arts, England; the Arctic Technology Centre, Greenland and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway.  

For further information on Circular Ocean go to 

About the Author

Ann Robinson
Has a passion for coastal heritage and maritime history. Loves sharing the best of the Irish coast online. Contact me or follow me on Twitter @AnnRobinson22