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Peer to peer support on the implementation of the EU legislation on marine litter

The ‘Peer to peer support on the implementation of the EU legislation on marine litter’ conference took place in Brussels on 23 November 2022.

The event, organised by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) explored the challenges and potential solutions of implementing key EU legislative tools in the fight against marine litter, notably regarding fishing gear containing plastic. The event was the second in a series of two on marine litter. It followed the DG MARE conference on ‘Fishing for litter activities and the use of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFAF)’ on 21 September 2022. Stakeholders from many different European countries – including Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Norway, Sweden, and the UK – shared their experiences and ideas regarding the implementation of the new requirements set out in the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) and Port Reception Facilities (PRF) directives.

All EU Member States must introduce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Schemes for fishing gear containing plastics by the end of 2024, as provided for in the Single-Use Plastics Directive (EU) 2019/904. Another new provision includes setting up national minimum collection targets for fishing gear, monitoring and reporting obligations as well as development of a harmonised standard for a circular design of fishing gear.

Participants in this conference discussed opportunities, challenges, concerns, ideas, and practices regarding the implementation of the new requirements set out in the SUP Directive. They also explored synergies with the new Port Reception Facilities Directive (EU) 2019/883, which creates incentives for ships to deliver all their waste, including fishing gear, back to shore.


1. Under recent EU legislation targeted at reducing pollution from marine litter, all waste fishing gear containing plastics will require specific handling, monitoring and reporting when they are brought to EU ports. Member States should also set up their national collection targets for fishing gear for recycling.

2. Member States must introduce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Schemes by the end of 2024 to cover the necessary costs for separate collection, transport and treatment of fishing gear and components of fishing gear containing plastic, as well as the costs of awareness-raising measures to prevent and reduce such litter.

3. A well-functioning EPR scheme should include all relevant stakeholders, including small producers, and avoid market distortion, free-riders and the cherry-picking of valuable waste streams.

4. All stakeholders in Europe – producers, manufacturers, fishers, harbours, distributors, importers, recyclers and authorities – must work together and learn from each other in order to build efficient EPR schemes and to successfully implement the requirements under the EU legislation.

5. Future EPR schemes for fishing gear can learn from the experience of successful EPR schemes in other sectors, such as packaging or electronics and electronic equipment, and in countries such as France, Germany and the UK. Keys to the success of an EPR scheme are good system design, fee modulation (to encourage circular design and sustainability), proper monitoring and reporting, as well as defined enforcement.

6. The definition of fishing gear as provided in the SUP Directive is vague. The definition of what is covered by the term “fishing gear and its components” should be better defined, so that producers and fishers know what to include in a country’s EPR scheme. Sweden for example has drafted laws to include gear used for recreational and sporting fishing in its EPR scheme. Ideally, definitions of fishing gear should be harmonised across the EU, to avoid grey zones and market distortions.

7. Recycling schemes for fishing gear containing plastics are being tested in several European countries. Under project INdIGO, the UK and France have developed infrastructure in and around ports to collect and sort this waste, often voluntarily, including characterisation of the polymers and their use in fishing gear. Projects like this must include awareness-raising campaigns among producers, fishers and the public about the importance of collecting and recycling plastics from this gear, including the use of good practice guides.

Conference Report:


  • integrated maritime policy | fisheries policy | coastal region
  • Wednesday 23 November 2022, 15:00 - 17:00 (CET)

Practical information

Wednesday 23 November 2022, 15:00 - 17:00 (CET)