Imagine you’re on the beach walking, salt breeze in your hair, the scent of coconut and sunscreen wafting through the air...when you suddenly spot a sea turtle stuck in an old fishing net.
What do you do? How did it happen? How can you help?
The truth of the matter is, this happens more frequently than we’d like to think. Luckily, there are companies out there working hard to ensure old fishing nets get out of the water - and out of the way of our marine life.
According to the Olive Ridley Project, “Old fishing nets or ‘ghost’ nets are commercial fishing nets that have been lost, abandoned, or discarded at sea. Every year they are responsible for trapping and killing millions of marine animals including sharks, rays, bony fish, turtles, dolphins, whales, crustaceans, and birds. Ghost nets cause further damage by entangling live coral, smothering reefs and introducing parasites and invasive species into reef environments.”
Why do we need to clean these nets from our oceans?
They can take hundreds to thousands of years to degrade and until then fish, whales, sharks and dolphins and turtles get stuck, injured and killed from suffocating or from bigger predators getting attracted and caught in the nets as well.
The nets also damage and smother the reefs as well when they bring in parasites and invasive species into each reef and get tangled in corals on the ground.
Cleaning these nets up and donating them to companies that can properly recycle them will save more of our precious reefs and beautiful sea creatures that live there and throughout the ocean. With no ocean we cannot survive. So we need to protect her and take care of her just like we take care of ourselves!
What to do with them when you find one?
You can donate them to places like non profit cleanup organizations around the world: Planet Love Life, Sea Shepherd, Kokua Hawaii Foundation, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, Keep America Beautiful, Restore America's Estuaries, Surfrider, Global Ghost Gear Initiative, Bahamas Plastic Movement, and many many more amazing volunteers. They can recycle them into something else useful like swimwear, sunglasses or properly dispose of them. For example, people in the Philippines gather the ghost nets as a living to recycle them into carpet tiles.
Companies That Are Lighting The Way For Ghost Net Recycling
A company called Bureo turns the nets into sustainable games, skateboards, and even sunglasses.
Healthy Seas works with ECONYL by helping spread the word about their swimwear. They also have other companies that sell swimwear and gear on there too! Their website also has a sign up page where you can join them by volunteering and connect with other companies to help make waste into wearable products.
Surf Soap believes that every company, no matter how big or small, has a responsibility and duty to take care of our precious resources - weather that’s making ocean safe shampoo, plastic free skincare, or bikinis out of fishing nets. We can all do our part to ensure our oceans are still viable and flourishing for not only our groms, but our grom’s groms for years to come.
See you out on the water!
Surf Soap Staff Writer