How to Prevent ‘Ghost’ Fishing Waste
Ghost fishing waste is estimated to kill at least 1000 whales, seals, dolphins, seabirds sea turtles and other creatures each day. One single net in the North Pacific had 99 dead seabirds, 200 dead fish and 2 dead sharks inside. Nets and fishing line used to be made from biodegradable hemp, but today are made from nylon, which does not break down. Other wildlife choke on fishing hooks, or get tangled in rope. Photographer Francis Perez did untangle this lovely creature, who then freely swam away. But until things change, it could happen again.
- Fishing for Litter gives hard-wearing bags to fishermen, who collect marine litter, which is recycled at the harbour. All costs are covered.
- GhostFishing UK and Neptune’s Army are organisations run by volunteer divers, who collect discarded fishing gear and other items (the latter did indeed once find a kitchen sink).
- Stow It Don’t Throw It is a fishing line recycling bin designed by scientists, made from old tennis ball cans. Fishing line can later be disposed of in proper recycling bins. Monomaster is a little gadget to fit in your pocket to store fishing line, until you can safely dispose of it. Do not use recycling bins that reseamble birds’ nests.
- Seabin Project is used in marinas worldwide, to catch marine trash. As long as you immediately release water, caught creatures can escape. It doesn’t catch microplastics because the inventors left the design, so small creatures like roe can pass.
Products made from fishing waste is a good idea, but only use sunglasses and flops etc, if you are not by the sea (if they fell in, they won’t biodegrade unlike bamboo or rubber). If you wear clothing made from recycled plastic, launder in a microfiber catch bag to stop fibres breaking off in the machine, and go into the sea. Avoid towels on beaches made with recycled plastic – they release tiny particles onto the sand, which will wash into the sea, when the tide goes in.
Choose biodegradable phone cases for instance. Nona makes clothes pegs made from recycled fishing waste, which are strong and sent in cardboard (free worldwide shipping). The simple design has no moving parts, and won’t rust or mould. And Sedna Carpet makes carpets and tiles.
Recycling Fishing Line
Discarded fishing line harms marine creatures. If you go angling, take all your fishing waste with you, and set up a local recycling scheme or safely dispose of all fishing waste in a secure bin when back to shore. Bureo makes skateboards made from recycled fishing waste.
400 million metres of fishing line are discarded each year in the UK alone, with heavy monofilament taking 600 years to biodegrade. Alternative Fishing Lures still harm the fish, but they are made from upcycled materials. There are 640K tons of ghost nets dumped at sea the same as 55,000 double decker buses) and 45% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made from dumped fishing nets, and kills sea life with the nets taking hundreds of years to decompose. Each alternative lure cleans up 10oz of ghost nets and they are removed from various collection areas in southeast Asia, where 60^ of marine plastics are, so they are recovering 20% of ocean plastic from Japan and South America.
Monomaster is a nifty little eco gadget to store waste nylon monofilament and other fishing lines. It stores pieces of line out of harm’s way to keep the planet safe and your vest pockets and tackle boxes clean and tidy, with no nasty surprises in your washing machine. Birds and small mammals often use fishing line as nesting material so it’s important to keep it out of the environment and water. This award-winnng product is made in The Netherlands and fits in every pocket. Just feed one end of the waste nylon in th slit, turn the handle and store in the container. Another bird saved, another mouse happy! At home, push the handle sideways with your thumb, take off the cap, take out the spindle, cut the line and throw away. Once cleaned, replace the spindle and cap, and it’s ready to use again.