From old fishing nets, opportunities for new business

We’re slowly but surely moving away from the wasteful throwaway culture where if we break it, we bin it. And this is partly down to our growing ability to see the value something retains even after its original purpose has been served. But millions of tons of reusable plastic still flows into our seas every year and fishing nets, or ghost nets as they become more aptly known, have a significant and damaging impact upon the marine environment.

Now a new European project, with its Cork-based Irish partner Macroom Eis looking to reduce this plastic waste by inspiring coastal communities to see the value in recycling fishing nets and to explore the green opportunities this overlooked resource represents.

The Circular Ocean project is trying to get people and businesses to view discarded fishing nets as a resource that can be repurposed and recycled after their fishing catching days are done. With a particular focus on more isolated communities in the Northern and Arctic regions of Europe, Ireland’s Atlantic coastal communities fit neatly with the aims of this project. The project will develop, share and test new sustainable solutions which would incentivize the collection and recycling of discarded nets and thus embrace a more ‘circular’ economy, retaining income locally.


The recycling process in a nutshell

The project provides resources outlining the areas of opportunity available to local communities, including:

  • Business and enterprise potential for recycling
  • Detailed exploration of case studies of existing fishnet recycling projects, their challenges and opportunities
  • Handbook of fishing net reuse options, including innovative eco-design companies
  • Fishing net reuse and recycling brochure for local communities
  • Examples of pilot work undertaken using fishing nets and ropes within remote regions
  • Open source eco-innovation hub for recycling and repurposing marine litter allowing the
    exchange of ideas and techniques
  • Eco-innovation toolkit – publications to support partners and end-users on circular economy
    innovation (related to discarded fishing nets).

Think you might be able to spin gold from old fishing nets? Visit Circular Ocean website to find out more.

So what is possible with old fishing nets? Well here’s one great example of what innovative thinking can produce:


Bureo skateboard (Photo credit: Bureo)

This use of old nets by Chilean company Bureo is pretty impressive. The company shreds and melts nets until they turn into hard plastic pellets. Then those pellets are injected under high temperature and pressure into a steel mold the shape of the skateboard.

About the Author

Daniel Farrell
Interested in all things on the Irish coast and sharing the best of it. // Email: // Follow on Twitter: @DanielsSeaViews