How did the idea for the project originate? Why the focus on Liguria?

The EcoeFISHent project aims at creating an effective system of circular value chains for eco-efficient valorisation of fishing and fish industries side streams. EcoeFISHent is one of many EU funded projects on marine sustainability developed in Liguria and included in the strategic policy of Regione Liguria. Both the regional Smart Specialization Strategy (focused on sea technologies, safety and quality of life in the territory, health and life sciences) and the Regional Sustainable Development Strategy (based on the Agenda 2030 SDGs) set the standards for European project planning, which also capitalize relevant results of past projects and builds upon them. One of them is P.Ri.S.Ma-MED, a project funded by the Interreg Marittimo-IT FR-Maritime, which addressed the fishing industry waste management in Liguria Region, with specific focus on  the regulatory changes prohibiting the disposal of unmarketable fish at sea. This situation necessitated the development of a new fishermen approach to comply with the new regulations.

Past projects prepared the ground for the development of the EcoeFISHent project, fostering collaboration among operators in fishing/aquaculture to reintroduce side streams into the production cycle. This collaboration has been expanded in the EcoeFISHent project with the aim of creating a comprehensive territorial cluster for industrial symbiosis with Liguria Region as centre of it. The nodes of the cluster include local producers, sellers organizations and public authorities, technology provider and R&D centres, aiming to set up a scalable and replicable system for recovery, valorising, upcycling and commercialization of underexploited sidestream. The partnership and collaboration among different actors is based on the awareness of the potential and availability of materials which are currently managed as waste and on the willingness of transforming the economic and environmental burden in valuable and sustainable second raw materials.

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The EcoeFISHent project not only aims for eco-efficient valorisation of fishing and fish industries side streams but also seeks to empower Liguria’s fishing economy. Recognizing Liguria’s significant coastline and rich fishing tradition, the project aims to boost the region’s economy while serving as a replicable model for other territories at European and global level. This initiative bridges various realms such as research, industry, regulatory affairs and logistics to strengthen an underrated sector.

The project’s innovation lies in its dedication to preserving the marine environment, reconciling human activities with natural ecosystem. The collection of used fishing nets as well as the substitution of fossil base packaging in the fishing sector will support the reduction of plastic in the ocean. Also the direct support to fishermen in using more sustainable tools and practise in their activities  stands as a declaration of intent for both environmental stewardship and economic advancement for the Ligurian Region.

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