Recycling nets to save reefs

mega underwater clean-up

Mega clean-up by the NHRCP in Hin Ngam filled the whole back of our boat with nets, 2012

How can creative recycling projects help save coral reefs? Discarded fishing nets are a major problem in most coral reefs around the globe. Often the nets are thrown off the boat when they are unable to be repaired, where they float through the sea, continuing to capture and kill marine life before eventually getting caught up in a coral reef.

A progressive new project is being implemented in the Philippines to pay fisherman for their old nets, and turn them into useful products such as carpets.  If they nets have economic value, then fisherman have a good incentive to sell them back to companies such as the Zoological Society of London (the ZSL).

According to the ZSL website, the estimated number of nets discarded just in the Danajon Bank area in the Philippines is enough to go around the world one and a half times.  Most of these nets are mono-filament, or Nylon, which persists in the environment for centuries.  Through their recycling project, the group has purchased over 8,850 kgs of nets from local fisherman, which have been recycled into products such as carpet.

Not only does the project have very clear environmental impacts, it also has created a new industry in the area, allowing more people to earn a living through sustainable means. Creative new markets such as this are one of the leading ways for us to protect our planet against the effects of rapid population growth and unsustainable industries.  Free market incentives have the potential to create long-term changes that government intervention generally cannot achieve.  There are limitless potentials for creative new industries out there, maybe you will be the one to think of the next big one.

Learn more at the company’s website.