Project MAELSTROM kick-off meeting

February 22, 2021
Project MAELSTROM kick-off meeting

The kick-off meeting of In-No-Plastic’s twin project MAELSTROM (Marine Litter Sustainable Removal and Management) was held online between 3rd and 5th of February. The project is funded under the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme and is dedicated to the mitigation of marine litter impact in coastal ecosystems.

MAELSTROM is a four-year project (scheduled to end in December 2024) led by the Institute of Marine Sciences of the Italian National Research Council (CNR-ISMAR), bringing together experts from robotics to marine biology, the sector of the recycling industry, and the involvement of citizens and stakeholders. In total there are 14 partners from 10 European countries in the project’s Consortium.

MAELSTROM’s main goal is to find solutions to reduce the impact of marine litter in coastal ecosystems, by identifying accumulation hotspots and by removing the existing litter from the coastal seabed and the water column of rivers before it reaches the sea. This is particularly important as marine litter poses a serious threat to both aquatic life and to ourselves, and parts of it can enter the food chain and get into the food we consume. The project will clean large coastal areas near Venice (Italy) and Porto (Portugal). Careful environmental assessment will also be done before and after the cleaning to evaluate the sustainability of the removal technologies.

With a vision to promote a circular economy, MAELSTROM will not only remove marine litter, but it will also recycle it by combining innovative processes and technologies using physical-chemical treatment approaches. In this way, the marine litter will become a new resource.

A first step towards climate neutrality by 2050 and decoupling economic growth from resource use, as foreseen by the European Green Deal.

We know that many human activities pose a threat to the marine ecosystems, so it is our responsibility to find solutions to address this issue,” says Fantina Madricardo, researcher at ISMAR-CNR and project scientific coordinator. “In many cases, scientific and technological advances offer an important help in protecting the environment. However, they are not enough: the real basis for achieving concrete results is the commitment and collaboration of all. For this reason, MAELSTROM will be strongly dedicated to public engagement and collaborative networking between projects and actions focused on reducing marine litter and its devastating impacts on coastal ecosystems.” – concludes Fantina.

Within MAELSTROM, Venice Lagoon Plastic Free plays a facilitation role between marine litter scientists, practitioners, and relevant public and private institutions, related to Venice’s demonstration site and its Lagoon, with the employment of MAELSTROM seabed clean up platform. Our Association is equally involved in operational and communication activities, designing and promoting the MAELSTROM tracking App with infield work in Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Finally, Venice Lagoon Plastic Free liaises MAELSTROM with its twin project In-No-Plastic, being in charge of co-creating a common thematic platform and the organisation of the joint three-year edition of the international workshops on “Removal of Marine Litter and Circular Economy: Challenges and opportunities“.

In the upcoming months we will share more information about the joint activities between the two projects. We invite you to follow MAELSTROM on social media and stay updated about the project development.