To help keep fishing gear from ending up in the marine environment, startups are collecting and recycling the gear and turning it into market-ready raw materials.
The Steveston Harbour Net Recycling Program, for example, has recycled more than 40 tons of nylon fishing gear with some help from Italian yarn producer Aquafil, which is capable of recycling the gear and turning it into products like socks, carpet tiles and a green carpet for Global Green’s 13th Annual Pre-Oscar Party. And organizations like Plastix are helping to raise awareness of fishing gear recycling on an international level via a handful of initiatives, such as Net-Works and Global Ghost Gear.
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In 2013, Joel Baziuk had a problem. He had too many fishing nets, and no good way to get rid of them. But that was about to change.
As operations supervisor of Steveston Harbour Authority, or SHA, just south of Vancouver, British Columbia, Baziuk is responsible for Canada’s largest commercial fishing harbor. At any given time, more than 400 vessels call the harbor home. At sea, they land a plethora of fish and shellfish — from salmon to shrimp to sea urchins — that wind up on dinner plates. All that seafood is caught with nylon nets — seine nets and gillnets that can reach hundreds of feet in length. Many such nets were slowly but surely colonizing every spare inch of storage in Baziuk’s harbor because many have deteriorated to such an extent that they can no longer be used for commercial fishing.