EEA Grants at the Azores

On the 11th October, EEA Grants, Portuguese and Norwegian government representatives visited TERINOV – Science and Technology Park, where the AIR Centre is based, for a presentation on regional projects financed by the programme.

The visit was an opportunity to showcase an ambitious regional initiative sponsored under the EEA grants, addressing the protection of the marine environment and its resources from plastic pollution, during the presentation of the Custodian project. With the goal of preventing marine pollution, the aim is to enhance long-term management of fishing waste and increase the income of fishermen. The industrial partner based in Azores Solvit Engenharia is pushing for deployment of the system.
“Partners from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) came all the way from Norway to discuss test sites there. The project is demonstrating innovative technologies which are currently under test in the Azores region. The fishing community and local authorities are very excited with the potential of the system.” stated Pedro Silva, CTO at the AIR Centre.

Lost fishing gear lost at sea is a major and global cause of concern. As it is mainly made of plastic materials, it contributes to both micro and macro-plastic pollution. It also causes futile ecosystem depletion, as currents drag the lost gear back and forth along the seabed, potentially destroying ecosystems. Besides being a hazard for navigation and having adverse economic consequences for marine tourism, strayed gear represents an asset loss for fishermen.

There is a need for a tracking system to be used for smaller vessels and can also be installed in fishing gear buoys is needed. To develop such a system, is the aim of Custodian, which can be seen as a digitalization of the existing requirements. The change provides an exponential augmentation of the utility of marking buoys, and vessels, as illustrated by the several services which can potentially be offered based on such data.