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Breathing life into ‘ghost gear’


Last month’s Circular Ocean conference in Reykjavik was an opportunity to highlight the problem of discarded fishing nets and ropes.

It provided a platform to partners of the Circular Ocean project – from Scotland, Ireland, Greenland and Norway – to share their experiences and potential solutions to the waste it creates.

“An estimated 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are left in the oceans around the globe every year. It might seem like a small fraction of the 8-12 million tonnes of waste plastics entering the oceans every year, but fishing nets cause a disproportionate amount of damage by continuing their deadly task of catching fish, seals, whales, turtles, damaging ecosystems, being caught in boat propellers and more. Their estimated life if left to their own devices is 600 years,” an EU Policy Lab blog says – the EU Lab ran a session at the event.

The abandoned fishing equipment is often labelled ghost gear. And the central focus of the Circular Ocean project is to inspire creative solutions for transforming it in a way that offers tangible economic benefits to the communities most affected by the problem.

As well as developing innovative methods to reuse and recycle ghost gear, some have harnessed creativity to shine a light on its destructive nature. One of those is craft and design student Jennifer Jones – watch the video below.

On her ‘ghost gear jumper’, she said: “The jumper is hard, spiky and unpleasant to the touch, while the arms and neck are made into suffocating nets, to signifying the indiscriminate ease with which Ghost Fishing Gear traps wildlife and damages the environment. The ends of the sleeves and neck have been tied into mock nets which are drawn closed.”

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