Recycled Fishing Nets Provide Material for New Products, from Sunglasses to Bikinis

A collaborative effort of fishermen, non-government organizations and Net Your Problem is sending thousands of pounds of old commercial fishing nets to recycling facilities for a new life in products ranging from sunglasses and kayaks to 3D printer filament and bikinis.

Recent efforts of Net Your Problem in San Diego, California, resulted in 12,000 pounds of old nylon fishing nets from drift gillnetters in Southern California being shipped off to a fish net recycling partner, Ambiberica, in Braga, Portugal, said Sara Aubrey, business and program development manager for NYP.

“Opening people’s minds up to new possibilities is so empowering, and that’s just what we’ve done here, taking old fishing net ‘garbage’ and giving it a chance at a whole new life” she said.

Aubrey has been working for the past two years with Nicole Baker, a research scientist at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences, and the founder of NYP.

Part of creating a sustainable, efficient and effective recycling system is creating demand for the recycled product, Baker notes. One of the latest was holiday wreathes, hand made in Maine with 100 percent repurposed lobster line. Through a recent partnership with Waterhaul, a United Kingdom firm that transforms old fish nets into sunglasses, more recycled fish nets will find use.

“As NYP navigates this entrepreneur journey, we are learning a lot about marketing, and how to communicate the value of our services”, Baker said. A recently launched Net your Problem (click here to view) video
explains the environmental benefits of recycling fishing gear. Baker is hoping the video will encourage more fishing vessels and companies to choose to dispose their end of life gear with her company.

NYP notes in its latest newsletter that the swordfish fishery is transitioning away from drift gillnets and all fishermen turning in their permits must also turn in their gear to a state of California certified net destruction entity. NYP is one of these and has been preparing mountains of nets for the Portuguese recycling firm that will turn these nets into raw plastic for new products.

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