San Benedetto Del Tronto: On a moonlit night off Italy’s coast, fishermen are hauling in the usual catch: cuttlefish, red mullet and plastic waste. But this time, they won’t throw the rubbish back.
The trash instead is being collected, analysed and, where possible, recycled in an initially month-long experiment to try to provide a blueprint for cleaning up the sea.
“A lot of the fishermen used to throw the rubbish back into the sea, because the law says they can’t bring it to land,” said Eleonora de Sabata, coordinator for Clean Sea Life, which runs the project. “They’re not authorised to carry waste, in ports there’s nowhere to put this kind of waste and it’s not clear who should dispose of it.”
That dilemma will hopefully not be an issue for the around 40 fishing boats sailing off the Adriatic resort of San Benedetto del Tronto who are taking part in the initiative. Since it started, the fishermen have collected around a tonne of waste a week for a month, of which 60 per cent is plastic.
Each day, volunteers catalogue and sort the smelly catch on the quayside. Some is recycled, some is disposed of along with household or industrial waste, but none goes back in the sea. The project had been due to wrap up on June 7, the day before World Oceans Day, but has now been extended through the summer months.
Organisers hope it will offer waste management solutions that can be scaled up for the rest of Italy and beyond. Much of the rubbish is single-use, such as bottles, plates and cutlery, but also includes old nets.