FISHERMEN are turning to fishing for plastic in an experiment to see if they can help clean up the seas.
The European Union is funding research into ways to clean up the Mediterranean with fishermen using special surface nets to pick up the millions of plastic bags, food containers, nappies and other objects that are a danger to marine life.
Fishermen were heading out today from Saint Jean Cap Ferrat in the Côte d'Azur to test the scheme and will be paid to gather the plastic.
It is a way to compensate them for the loss of earnings from a ban on the practice of discarding dead fish that are uneconomical to land.
Fishermen had been used to throwing tons of undersized or bycatch fish back into the sea and will now have to land their whole catch, and be paid less for it.
European fishing commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "We need to tackle this problem of discards once and for all."
The Mediterranean is thought to have around 18,000 pieces of plastic per kilometre while the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - a vortex of plastic rubbish in the middle of the north Pacific - is said to be about the size of France.
Studies have shown that 95% of fulmars (a sea bird) washed up dead are found to have their stomachs filled with plastic.