Welcome to Sotenäs - the home of Abba! (not the band, but the seafood producer)

Municipality of Sotenäs on the west coast of Sweden hosted the CIRCNETS kick-off meeting in April 2023


Sotenäs - a municipality with seawater in its veins

Municipality of Sotenäs on the west coast of Sweden is only about 90 minutes’ drive away from the metropol area of Gothenburg, the second city of Sweden, but the two could not be further apart. Sotenäs has a population of less than 10000 people, most of whom are living on a rugged, fragmented coastal area. The municipality lives of sea and breaths the salty sea air. The sea brings tourists to the municipality, above all to the holiday resort of Smögen, whereas fish in many forms is taken out from the municipality.  Kungshamn – or King’s Landing (hmm, where have we heard that before?) – is the place of production, which can be found in the sides of Abba Seafood’s pickled herring jars and many other products. Sotenäs is the realm of Abba and other well-known Nordic seafood companies, which have production facilities in the municipality.

Home to the only Marine Recycling Center in the Nordics

But why on earth did the CIRCNETS partners travelled for a kick-off meeting here of all the places? Especially, since this can be hardly regarded as northern, peripherical and not even Arctic location? Sotenäs has something unique (besides being first class holiday resort by sea with plenty of delicious seafood), namely the only dedicated marine recycling center in the Nordic countries. The center, which is run by the municipality, receives collected EOL fishing gear and also ghost gear retrieved from the sea and from the coast, which are treated at the facility. The gear is fixed and sold, if the gear is still up to the job, or cut into different material segments, which are then sent for recycling. The fishing gear can include a lot of different kind of plastics, metals, rubber, and recycling some of them is easier, whereas some might just end up being incinerated.  Still, a significant part of them can be recycled and can be used to make new products.

Processing collected nets and preparing them for recycling

Sotenäs has been a pioneer on this field and that was the reason why Sotenäs was invited to join the partnership in the first place and why the partners headed there for the kick-off meeting. “We have done this for 5 years already and we are confident that our experience can help in setting up similar systems in other parts of Europe as well”, confirms Louise Staxäng-Torbäck from Municipality of Sotenäs. The partners were eager to find out, how things work in Sotenäs, and finding out this in the beginning of the project was therefore important. Seeing is believing, so the logical point for the partners to start their common journey was to meet in Sotenäs. The partners discussed the challenges at the hand, the more exact implementation plans of the project, but the cherry on the top of the cake was definitely the visit to the marine recycling center itself. At the center the partners could see and hear what happens to collected fishing gear at the facility, how different materials are extracted from them and what happens to them next. They recycling center has also equipment that can be used to make pilot runs of products with recycled materials and a showroom, which included items produced from recycled plastics from fishing gear. The visit proved to be a good kick-start for the whole project, as the partners could get a glimpse of what could be done in their own regions following the example set by Sotenäs.



Workshop Highlights Collaborative Efforts to Tackle Marine Litter from Fishing Gear

Mitigating marine litter, particularly from end-of-life (EOL) fishing gear, were on agenda in a workshop co-hosted by the European Commission and OSPAR took place in Brussels in end of March


The International Conference on Ghost Gear 2023

Marine litter and the role of ghost gear on it has been on agenda for quite some time, but the first, international conference on ghost gear was organised only in November 2023


Port visits and 15 minutes of fame for CIRCNETS

Port surveys - what is the status quo of EOL fishing gear collection?