Harlinger fishermen extract a record 176 tonnes of litter from the sea

Fishing vessels in Harlingen removed 176,600 kilos of litter from the sea last year. That’s a record, and more than four times the annual average.

Today, the joint fishermen in the Frisian port city were awarded a certificate by KIMO Netherlands and Belgium. This is an organisation of coastal municipalities that strives for a cleaner sea with the ‘Fishing for Litter’ project.

“It’s double. Of course it’s no fun that there’s so much waste in the sea. But with all the waste that is taken to the port, the sea becomes cleaner”, says Jan Joris Midavaine of KIMO at Omrop Fryslรขn. He points out that litter normally sinks to the seabed. Now that is slowly but surely changing. “We hear more and more positive stories from the sector; from the fishermen. They say: the places where we fish now, it’s clean there.”

The MSC Zoe disaster

Fishing for Litter has been running since 2001. It has never happened before that much rubbish has been collected in a port in one year. A record was also set nationwide in 2019: 558,325 kilos of litter to be precise.

This is partly due to the fact that fishermen are more willing to take the waste to the port. But there was also more waste in the sea last year, mainly as a result of the MSC Zoe disaster. On New Year’s Day and 2 January 2019, almost 350 containers crumpled off the deck in stormy conditions, just northeast of the Dutch Wadden Islands.

Experts estimate that there are still around 800 tonnes of MSC Zoe litter in the sea. Fishing for Litter expects a new record of litter landed by fishermen by 2020.