Funded Projects 2014-2020

Project BCE

Project Acronym BCE
Project subsite


Globally, oceans continue to accumulate debris in all forms making them possibly the biggest landfills on the planet.  Marine littering, defined as the introduction of solid refuse into the marine environment through human activity, poses a major threat to the ocean environment and is a growing concern for authorities.

Plastic is seen as an important material in our economy and our daily lives, but too often the way plastics are produced, used and discarded fails to capture the economic benefits of a more 'circular' approach and harms the environment. Due to  immature value chains most of the discarded nets end up in landfills or incineration plants instead of being recycled or upcycled. Most of the companies exploring waste fishing nets, ropes and components (FNRCs) to develop new resources, are micro-SMEs which operate within a regional or local market, where the demand is limited and product costs remain too high. 

Blue Circular Economy (BCE) aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) offering products and services within fishing gear recycling solutions in the NPA region to attain a greater market reach. Building on the network developed under Circular Ocean (2015-2018), the project will set up a multi-level cluster to connect and catalyze SMEs in the region. The cluster formation will be used as a hub, multiplier and network enabler where knowledge and experience is developed and shared, all the while adopting an inclusive gender-equal approach. The cluster establishment and operation will be done in collaboration with academia, industry and government agencies following a triple helix approach. BCE will therefore contribute to sustainable development in the NPA region at the economic, environmental and social levels.


To create three clusters of recycled fishing gear in the NPA region 

BCE will contribute to the creation of one cluster of recycled fishing gear in Norway, one in Ireland and one overarching cluster in the NPA area.

Create environmental and economically viable circular business models for SMEs in the fishing gear industry

Due to the immaturity of current value chains in the industry of recycled fishing gear, there is a need to help creating viable circular business models for the SMEs in this industry.

Stimulate the market demand for products made of recycled fishing gear

The BCE project aims to help SMEs offering products and services within the fishing gear recycling solutions in the NPA-region to attain greater market reach. This will be done by aiding in commercialising & creating an eco-label for the recycled products



Business development:

One of the main objectives of the project was to help SMEs to reach a greater market potential with products made from recycled fishing gear. The mentorship, stakeholder meetings and webinars enhanced the business development capability of the SMEs within the cluster and helped them to turn the challenges into new opportunities. The project also provided a forum for SMEs to network and cluster, increasing the accessibility of their products and services.



Raising awareness:

The project raised awareness about plastics pollution, the organisations working to tackle discarded fishing nets and to develop economic opportunities. Bringing the topic of plastic pollution to the European level, BCE was one of five project finalists in the Regiostars award 2020 in the category “Circular Economy for a Green Europe”. Since plastic pollution in the oceans affects also seabirds, the project continued raising awareness about the impacts of marine plastic on seabirds. As part of the project, the Environmental Research Institute launched an online website where people from around the world can upload pictures of entangled birds or a nest with debris incorporated.


Lead Partner


Project Info

Business development, trade, marketing
2 Entrepreneurship
2.2 Greater market reach
Project duration
30-09-18 to 29-09-21
Total budget
1 690 661 EUR
NPA co-financing
1 012 529 EUR
Target groups
regional public authority
sectoral agency
education/training centre and school
enterprise, including SME
business support organisation
interest groups including NGOs
General public
Joint Secretariat Desk Officer
Rachel Burn