OCEANETS project inserts trackers into fabric made from fishing nets to guarantee traceability

The aim of the European OCEANETS project is to develop technology solutions, in line with the circular economy model, for end-of-life fishing nets. New methods are therefore being researched to prevent the loss of these nets and facilitate their recovery and reuse, as well as their recycling as new textile products with high added value.

Since being launched in early 2019, the OCEANETS geolocation tool has been used by the Port of Vigo Shipowners’ Cooperative (ARVI) and the Asociación Vertidos Cero, in order to prevent the loss of fishing nets. In net recovery projects, fishermen are now able to identify areas where obstacles have been detected that trap their fishing nets, as well as the places where they have lost nets. In addition, thanks to chemical recycling, the company and project consortium member ECOALF has made it possible to turn end-of-life fishing nets into a new raw material in the form of polyamide pellets.

And now AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre and also a consortium member, has just completed research that confirms the feasibility of including an additive in the polyamide pellets as a tracker. When exposed to infrared rays, this tracker will reveal its presence in the fabrics. This is the first time it has been possible to demonstrate the traceability of the raw material used to make a fabric, which, in this case, is fishing nets. The result is a sample fabric produced by consortium member Sintex.

The project’s next steps will be carried out in the field of mechanical recycling, with the aim of recovering polyester and polyethylene fishing nets to manufacture new woven and non-woven products. The environmental, economic, and social impact of the processes and the project as a whole will also be measured under the supervision of the Universidad de Vigo.

The OCEANETS project is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, due to its commitment to the marine environment and responsible production and consumption. The project is funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).