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I am a sucker for watching animal videos on youtube and the dodo. This stuff can get me in the best of moods so quickly and it can get me crying within seconds.
Now, I am a grown man and I may even look tough on the outside…
Yeah, but I am not. I am a total softy and that’s why this whole changing the world for the better means so much to me.
Today I want to educate you on the impact that Ghost Nets have on our environment and what people are already doing to solve this problem.
What are ghost nets?
Every year more than 25 000 fishing nets are reported lost or discarded. Most of the time these are broken nets that are no longer good for fishing.
This creates a huge problem since the modern fishing net isn’t made from natural fibres anymore, but from nylon.
Nylon can not biodegrade and therefore stays in our oceans for hundreds if not thousands of years. (it eventually turns into microplastic)
Once these nets are dumped in the ocean, we call them ghost nets and they continue to kill marine life.
Get it Ghost Net?
Ghost nets have the properties to be very sturdy and buoyant. Many of these nets continue to travel via the currents of the ocean or float at the surface for years and decades to come. Even though there are areas where fishing with nets is not allowed, scientists find ghost nets in those regions.
Some plastic fishing gear, for example, monofilament-gill-net is almost invisible in water. It is also extremely strong and very resistant to biting and chewing by trapped animals. Every year they are responsible for trapping and killing millions of marine animals including sharks, rays, bony fish, turtles, dolphins, whales, crustaceans, and birds.
And to top it up they also impact the beauty of shorelines, resulting in expensive cleanups and financial loss for the tourism and diving industry.
Assorted marine debris, including the word ‘Trash’ spelt out with golf balls, is displayed on Kahuku beach. This is part of the Ocean Defenders Campaign in which the Greenpeace ship Esperanza MV sails to the Pacific Ocean, sometimes referred to as the North Pacific garbage patch, to document the threat that plastic poses to the environment and sea life.
Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been left or lost in the ocean by fishermen. These nets, often nearly invisible in the dim light, can be left tangled on a rocky reef or drifting in the open sea. They can entangle fish, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, dugongs, crocodiles, seabirds, crabs, and other creatures, including the occasional human diver. Acting as designed, the nets restrict movement, causing starvation, laceration and infection, and suffocation in those that need to return to the surface to breathe. – wikipedia
Ghost fishing continues
Since we now know that the ghost nets can travel huge distances from their point of origin they have different effects on marine life.
1. They continue to kill marine life through entanglement
2. They introduce parasites and invasive species into reef environments
3. Entangled fish often act as bait and attract larger fish to also become entangled
4. The drifting ghost net might eventually become so heavy that it sinks to the bottom where it smothers around a reef
5. Sometimes the nets become light again due to fish eating the entangled animals and natural decomposition which leads to the net floating back up all over again.
Why do ghost nets end up in our ocean?
- bad weather conditions
- catch overload
- poor gear maintenance
- snagging on the bottom
- the high cost of retrieval
- fishery conflicts or vandalism
- no access to recycling facilities
- illegal fishing activities
- destructive fishing techniques
It is easy for us not to worry about what is inside the ocean because we simply can’t see what’s going on in the deep blue. But we can no longer look away. The oceans are changing and without a healthy ocean, we don’t exist.
So many of us rely on the fish in the ocean to feed their families and it seemed like we saw the ocean as this never-ending source of food. But this is simply not the case.
In the last 50 Years, we lost more than 50% of our reefs over 90% of our fish population is being lost. The ocean is becoming more acidic and quite simply put we are fucked if we don’t change.
This is the part where it gets cool.
So far it has been a lot of negative things about ghost nets. Though they are making up 10% of plastic in the ocean, there are plenty of people out there making a difference every day.
Take the Philippines for example, the people there rely on the oceans. Fish is their main food supply. But discarded fishing nets have become a major problem. The reefs are dead and the fish are getting less and less.
Now fishermen collect old nets to be recycled into carpet tiles. The company Net-works is helping those communities. Check out what great work they are doing and how it helps the people who live there.
One of my favourites is bureo they turn the discarded fishing nets into sustainable skateboards, and games. Like the famous Jenga and a sustainable frisbee. But my favourite are these slick looking sunnies, they come in three different shapes and many different lenses all made from recycled ghost nets. Pretty cool right?
I am not an affiliate with them, I just think they are doing a great job hence why I promote them here.
This one is more for your girlfriend… the company is actually called that and they use the ghost nets to make leggings, bras and tops. Pretty cool idea although you would have to use the guppyfriend laundry bag to keep the microfibres out of our oceans.
Then there is Healthy Seas, a non-profit created by two businesses that have joined forces to tackle marine litter. Their main focus is on ghost nets and once they have collected them they don’t just throw them on landfill.
No, they turn the ghost nets into new nylon yarn called ECONYL which is then made into swimwear, carpets and socks.
Would you like to buy a bracelet and help cleaning the oceans from ghost nets? Here is Planetlovelife making bracelets and earrings out of recycled nets.
What about ghost net art?
The Australian museum displays some of the artwork created by indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.
Several Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are now turning these destructive materials into works of art, which are raising awareness for this terrible issue, and reflect the struggle that communities face in protecting the marine environment. While nets were once either simply dumped or burned after being retrieved, the varying kinds of the net are now viewed in a different light. Some kinds of the net are particularly desired by artists for their colour and physical qualities and are turned into stunning sculptural works of art, as well as smaller items. ~ Australian museum.
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Thanks and until next time