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NGOs And Businesses Launch Major Initiative For Cleaning Seas

ARCO, TILBURG, LEIDEN, OISTERWIJK — March 18 2013 — Aquafil, ECNC Land & Sea Group and Star Sock have together established the "Healthy Seas, a Journey from Waste to Wear" Initiative.

The main objective of this Healthy Seas Initiative is to remove waste, in particular fishing nets, and other marine litter from the seas and oceans for the purpose of creating healthier seas and recycling marine litter.

Recovered fishing nets are still all too often dumped into landfills or burned, but as part of the Healthy Seas Initiative they will be transformed and regenerated into ECONYL® yarn, a high-quality raw material used to create beautiful new products, such as socks, swimwear, underwear, carpets, etc.

The dumping of fishing nets is an open wound in our ecosystem. According to a joint report by FAO and UNEP, there are approximately 640,000 tons of abandoned fishing nets in the oceans, accounting for one-tenth of all marine litter. These nets remain in the marine ecosystem for hundreds of years and are responsible for accidental capture of dolphins and other animals, such as turtles and marine birds, which often die once trapped.

The Healthy Seas Initiative will be launched in three main phases and the detailed description of the relevant action plan will be made public before the end of April.

In the first phase, the Healthy Seas approach will be implemented in three pilot regions in Europe: the North Sea (Netherlands and Belgium), the Adriatic Sea (Italy, Slovenia and Croatia) and the Mediterranean Sea (Spain). The completion of this pilot phase will allow the three partners to identify the most efficient practice to adopt in the future expansion of the Initiative into other much wider areas.

The second phase will identify effective procedures which will discourage the abandonment of fishing nets at sea and will make available, encourage, and facilitate responsible handling of fishing nets at the end of their life, allowing their recovery and regeneration into new products. The expansion of the Initiative to other areas will be part of this second phase.

During the third phase constructive proposals will be developed concerning implementable actions. These will be submitted to governments and legislators to ensure that the Healthy Seas Initiative will deliver long-term results and that public awareness will be maximised.

A "Healthy Seas Fund" will be established, with a focus on awareness-raising about the importance of healthy seas, the removal of abandoned fishing nets from oceans and seas, and the financing of local coastal and marine projects that support the objectives of the Healthy Seas Initiative.

In addition to the three original founders, the Initiative will be open to other business and NGO partners. Local communities, experts and operators will be involved in order to create best practices that will improve the recovery and regeneration of fishing nets. At the same time, events and training courses will be held to promote and raise the awareness of people, including the younger generation, about the preservation of our seas' environment and health.

Posted on March 18, 2013

Source: Aquafil/ECNC Land & Sea Group/Star Sock

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