What else can be done to help the plastic problem in our seas? One unlikely project comes from the European Union, where fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki has proposed to pay fishermen to catch plastic trash, which would both help reduce marine debris in the oceans AND compensate fishermen for the low profits in the fishing sector. A pilot project in the Mediterranean now provides fishermen with special nets to catch plastic debris and bring it back to shore for recycling.
However, opponents note that this practice relies heavily on vessels that use bottom trawling gear, which has detrimental effects to marine ecosystems and the sea floor. Currently, over 72% of the European Union’s fish stocks are overfished and using such an approach could lead to further environmental damage.