Mediterranean Cleanup – Marine debris cleanup with fishing trawlers

Places: Corfu, Lefkada

According to marine pollution surveys conducted by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research and given the amounts of litter collected annually by clean-up actions on the coasts of the islands, the middle and north Ionian Sea are among the top polluted spots of all the seas in Greece. Enaleia employs a novel approach for cleaning the seas by employing the fish trawlers to collect and sustainably dispose off the litter that they pick with their nets while fishing.

The project in the Ionian Sea is co-funded by the IEF and Costas M.Lemos Foundation and is part of the programme ‘Mediterranen Cleanup’, which is founded and run by Enaleia.

Summary of the Project

The overall objective of this project is to remove marine litter from the sea bottom of the Ionian Sea in the areas, where the fishing trawlers fish. This is considered an environment-friendly method, as the trawlers only fish whre there is sandy seabed and since they are out in the sea for their commercial activity.

By utilising the network of fishermen and local communities, the project aims to lead to more responsible management of the collected waste and the introduction of as much of the collected waste as possible into the circular economy. The recyclable plastic waste that is collected -included fishing nets- are sent abroad to two companies, namely Healthy Seas and Ecoalf, to be recycled by being used as raw materials for new products, such as socks and swimwear.

Main actions

  • Training is provided in each fishing community about marine plastic pollution, the effect to their profession and how professional fishers can be part of the solution.
  • A monthly fee of 200€ per fishing trawler.or a fee of 0,50 EUR per kg of marine plastic is paid for each trawler boat as an incentive.
  • These actions entail several types of work to be conducted, such communicating with fishermen about any issues and about recording quantities of collected litter, providing fishermen with bags in order to collect the marine litter, and with stickers, in order to track the quantities that each fishing boat is cleaning.
  • Six fishing trawlers are participating in the clean-up -all five based in Corfu and the one in Lefkada- and thirty fishermen will have been trained to clean plastic from the sea and to sustainably dispose off the waste.


Expected impact

As a result of these actions we expect a minimum of 7 metric tonnes to be removed from the seabed and an Economic Environmental Impact from the clean-up in the range of € 210,000, while increasing awareness among fishing communities and more broadly.