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The INdIGO Project: Innovative Fishing Gear for Ocean

ABOUT

The INdIGO Project is a multi-stakeholder initiative concerned with the reduction of plastic fishing gear pollution in the Channel Sea; it also endeavours to redesign the current gear used by applying key sustainable principles that will in effect not only support best practice in the fishing industry but will also help protect the marine environment and all its wildlife.

The project is part funded by the European Union and has a duration 3 years and 9 months (2019 - 2023). The budget allocated is of €4.3m, of which €2.9m is funding acquired from the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg France Channel England Programme. It has 10 partners in the UK and France and is led by the Université de Bretagne Sud in Brittany.

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AREAS OF RESEARCH & PROJECT AIMS

The project aims to reduce the amount of plastic in the Channel area of the UK and France by 3% and develop biodegradable fishing gear as an alternative to those currently used in the fishing and aquaculture industry. 

Some of the areas of research and activities this project will explore include (but are not limited to): 

  1. conducting market analysis and studying the costs and benefits of developing the new gear
  2. study the ageing of fishing gear in the marine environment
  3. testing biodegradation and ecotoxicity
  4. analysing acceptability and appropriation of the new fishing gear by the end user (by studying the barriers and opportunities for implementation (both technical and economic), 
  5. promote the research amongst political networks with the hope of influencing future regulations
SUSTAINIBILITY; THE HEART OF THE PROJECT

When lost at sea, fishing gear such as nets and traps, can have a direct impact on marine wildlife either due to its ingestion or by it snaring, injuring and ultimately killing the life in question whether a seal, crab, fish, turtle, whale, dolphin, shark etc. This is known as ghost fishing.

Microplastics is another issue being considered throughout this project's efforts. This happens when plastic is broken down into minute fragments and is ingested by marine wildlife only to find its way back into the human food chain. 

To reduce, and where possible eliminate these issues, the project will develop two prototypes of biodegradable nets: 1) a fine fishing net made from monofilament and 2) a catching net for mussel culture made from multifilament -this net will degrade faster since the aim is to adapt the lifespan of the materials to its use. 

The design of these nets will consider values that until now have not been applied in the manufacturing of mass market plastic fishing gear. Circular economy principles such as sharing, reusing, using materials with less environmental impact, repairing, adapting the life span of materials to their use, renovating, regenerating natural systems and recycling the materials already in use to design out unnecessary waste are at the heart of the project's operations. 

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ODYSSEY INNOVATION & THE INDIGO PROJECT

INdIGO’s objective to increase sustainability within the fishing industry goes beyond solely designing and manufacturing eco-friendly gear. 

Free port reception recycling facilities play a large part too- this is an aspect Odyssey Innovation have specialised in since 2015. By having the correct infrastructure in place, fishermen have all the amenities which encourage best practice for the disposal of their plastic waste/gear and which acts as a preventative solution to the issue of marine plastic pollution and ghost fishing. 

All the while, Odyssey Innovation has collated data on materials available, amounts of gear collected, has set up and developed recycling and collection routes across the United Kingdom whilst continuously ensuring highly positive environmental impacts.

Odyssey Innovation's Managing Director and Founder, Robert Thompson, has been enlisted by the University of Plymouth to support the overall aims and goals of this project. His company is providing itself and its resources as a working case study; the work already done through years of industry, harbour and community outreach not only provides valuable baseline knowledge/data for the regions it operates in but also allows for more robust understanding of the issues and challenges faced on the ground. The data provided will also help inform best practice guides (coming soon) which will also be used to inform behavioral and policy change, locally and abroad.

AN APP TO LOG AND TRACK FISHING GEAR

The INdIGO project has also developed a mobile application called FISH & CLICK to locate various types of fishing gears that have already been lost at sea.

This tool not only serves as an aid to support the inhouse research program by mapping fear pollution in the cross-Channel zone, but also serves as an educational tool by engaging divers, walkers and fishermen to report abandoned, lost and discarded fishing equipment.

For more information or to report fishing gear in your location please visit: FISH&CLICK

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Stay Tuned

If you're interested in knowing more about this project please see the following links below.

The University of Plymouth, INdIGO

The European Union ERDF Fund

The INdIGO Project

The Fishermen Survey

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Quotes
You (Robert Thompson) have shown remarkable ingenuity in developing a model which will not only collect discarded plastic from the sea, but recycle it so it can be used to collect more debris. Your pioneering work is preserving our seas for future generations.
THERESA MAY
British Prime Minister (2016 to 2019)
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Quotes
Rob is an inspiration and a great thought leader in the ghost net space, what he is doing is fantastic and I hope he gets more help and backing to grow more, a real ocean ambassador. and role model.
CHRISTOPHER STOREY, DIRECTOR
Sea Shepherd Global
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Quotes
“Programs like Odyssey Innovation’s Paddle for Plastic are extremely valuable for raising awareness about various forms of ocean plastic and giving people a tangible way to contribute to a solution in a fun and engaging way. The circular nature of the program is also extremely valuable as there’s a direct tangible result in the creation of new kayaks from recovered ocean plastic to allow for further expansion of the program and its positive effects. We’re proud to have Odyssey Innovation as a member of the GGGI.”
JOEL BAZIUK, DEPUTY DIRECTOR
Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGG!)
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“Rob is one of the most passionate, hardworking, and inspiring people I know. His application of circular economy ethos to tackling what is an enormous economic and environmental issue is a great example of modern day innovation and social enterprise. ”
JON HARVEY
Plastics and Sustainability Team, Environment Agency
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Quotes
“Rob’s work has been the key factor in fishermen and ports in the SW engaging with the recycling of fishing gear. Resulting in over 60 tonnes of fishing nets being recycled, reducing the amount of fishing gear going to land fill, improving the environmental credentials of the fishing industry in the SW and having a direct impact in reducing plastic in the ocean”.
RICHARD CASLAKE
Regional Manager, Seafish
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Quotes
"A wet but very enjoyable day at The Mount Batten centre with my new recycling hero Rob out on very special kayaks doing our bit for the British seas‬"
STEVE BROWN
TV Presenter, Captain of the UK's Wheelchair Rugby Team
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"Every kayak made has been the result of teamwork and dedication for the protection of our marine life - these truly are made to save the ocean for people who love the ocean... people like you and I"
LIZZIE LARBASTIER
Blue Mind Coach & Founder of Ghostnetbusters
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Quotes
“I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to paddle cleanup whilst in a kayak made from marine plastic and then donate the hard plastic we picked up to be turned into more kayaks. This is a great example of the circulatory we need to aim for. What you have achieved is truly inspiring”
CLARE OSBORNE
Founder of the Podcast: Clare Talks Rubbish
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Quotes
It’s always deeply satisfying to hear when our clients successfully launch a new product to market. It’s been a long time coming but creating something new from recycled materials isn’t as straight forward as people think. Rob has pioneered the process of recycling marine plastic and has even collaborated with multiple organisations to form a net recycling scheme. It’s amazing what they have achieved and it’s been a pleasure to have played a small part in their innovation journey.”
JENNY NALDREATH
ATI, University Of Plymouth
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Odyssey Innovation Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales, company number 11320877