On the 8th of November 2011 “WFO Belgium” was launched with the support of EU Commissioner Maria Damanaki (Maritime Affairs & Fisheries) who has already loaned her support to WFO in the past and has shown considerable encouragement for fishermen to become involved in such initiatives which tackle the growing problem of marine litter.

Also present on the day was WFO Chairwoman Mrs. Anna Rosbach MEP who stressed the need to continue efforts in many other EU countries and throughout the World to tackle the issue of marine litter. Other speakers present during the launch of ‘WFO Belgium’ included:
Mr. Ivan Victor- chairman of SDVO, Mr. Johan Vande Lanotte – Former Minister of the North Sea, Minister of State and President of the Coastal & Marine Union, Stéphane Dalimier chairman of Federplast and Prof Colin Janssens from Gent University.

Waste Free Oceans (WFO) is an industry led initiative that aims to work together with fishermen in cleaning up floating marine debris in European coastal waters. The official launch took place in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, France in May 2011. Following this launch WFO has set planned pilot projects in Belgium, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Greece.

WFO has already succeeded in gaining broad public attention during its first public conference, at the European Parliament, in the presence of several politicians, NGOs and industry representatives which took place on October 18th 2011. On that occasion WFO aimed to highlight the growing problem of marine litter and promote initiatives to tackle that issue.

During the Belgian event in the port of Ostend the press had a chance to see how the THOMSEA trawl and the Belgian fishermen operate in order to collect floating marine debris and bring it to recycling companies. Also on the agenda was the inauguration of SDVO’s educational container about “sustainable fishing”.

“WFO Spain” will subsequently be launched on November 17th in Barcelona.

To find out more about Waste Free Oceans, please visit our website at www.wastefreeoceans.eu