Fishing for litter was one of Clean Sea LIFE’s most successful initiatives. Pilot projects were carried out in four Italian regions, in Porto Torres (Sardinia), Manfredonia (Puglia), Rimini (Emilia-Romagna) and San Benedetto del Tronto (Marche). The project involved a total of 118 vessels, the largest fleet ever engaged in this activity in Italy. The fishermen brought ashore 80 tons of marine litter caught up in nets. The aim of the pilot project was not just to remove a considerable amount of waste from the environment, but also to identify with fishermen and local authorities a feasible management process for marine litter.
Clean Sea LIFE assisted both branches of the Italian Parliament to fine-tune the ’Salva Mare’ law by testing the draft regulation during the project’s pilot fishing for litter activities and providing evidence-based reports; the law was finally approved in May 2022. This activity deeply touched Pope Francis who invited the fishermen to a private audience, where he praised their efforts: “This project is an example of how civil society can and must contribute to tackling global issues, stimulating the responsibility of institutions”. Clean Sea LIFE presented the Holy Father a flag of the LIFE programme, as a testament to the efforts of all Italian and European LIFE projects to protect biodiversity.