Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has launched an initiative to encourage Irish trawlers to remove and reduce plastic waste from the seas around the country.

The Clean Oceans Initiative is the first such coordinated scheme and aims to enlist the support of all commercial Irish sea fishermen by the end of the year.

Plastic pollution in Irish seas is a huge global problem. Around eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped in the world's oceans every year.

Last year, the Marine Institute's Celtic Explorer research vessel caught and measured fish during a trans-Atlantic crossing.

Almost three-quarters of them had micro plastics in their stomachs.

The Clean Oceans Initiative is a Government-backed plan to enlist the help of the more than 200-strong Irish fishing fleet to clean up the seas around Ireland.

Mr Creed hopes all Irish commercial sea fishermen will agree to retain plastic waste trawled from the sea in their nets so that it can be disposed of verifiably on shore.

Cooperation with the plan will be voluntary.

The Clean Oceans Initiative was launched in Union Hall in west Cork, one of 12 ports and fishery harbour centres designated for the disposal of plastic waste under the plan.