In Norway, the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries has carried out annual retrieval survey in the Atlantic and Barents Sea since the 1980s to catch lost fishing gear. The surveys is based on extensive information gathering of lost gears. Since 1983, the Directorate of Fisheries has picked up over 572 km of gillnets. Furthermore, Norway has cleaned up after abandoned facilities for shellfish farming. In the last two years, a pilot project for "Fishing for litter" has also been carried out, where fishing gear accounts for a significant part of the waste where the fishermen themselves fish during their own trips. Through annual beach cleaning surveys, thousands of voluntary Norwegians has gathered a large amount of gear and ropes along the entire Norwegian coast. Our own and foreign fishermen's gear contributes to a significant part of the coastal litter. In addition to all of the implemented cleanup measures, it is going to be implemented more preventative measures because the most important thing is to avoid littering in the first place. However, the cleanup must continue in order to minimize the environmental impact of lost gears and other plastic waste that will occur in the marine environment.
This year's Keep Norway Beautiful conference had a Nordic profile with Norwegian, Nordic and International speakers. There was broad consensus that regional cooperation and measures are crucial for meeting an ever-increasing global challenge with littering of the oceans. New surveys show that fishing gear or components from these make up a high proportion.
While the impacts of microplastics in marine ecosystems have been reported in the literature since the 1970s, many questions remain open. MICRO 2018 provides an opportunity to share available knowledge, fill in gaps, identify new questions and research needs, and develop commitments to operationalise solutions; MICRO 2018 will be a chance to reconvene, share what we have learned, and generate momentum for the work that remains to be done.