The ocean conservation charity Ghost Fishing UK has teamed up with award winning innovation Ocean Plastic Pots, in the first recycling initiative of its kind in the UK.
The charity consists entirely of volunteers, most of whom are scuba divers who give up their free time to survey and recover lost fishing gear.
Despite several initiatives on the continent, meaning shipping filthy fishing gear across Europe for sorting, cleaning and recycling, the charity were keen to find a solution on their home soil.
In a stroke of luck, charity trustee Christine Grosart came across Ally Mitchell at work and the idea grew.
Glasgow based Ally had been involved in the salvage of tonnes of plastic pieces from a grounded vessel off the coast of Scotland. He wanted to see if he could make something from the plastic waste. After a few experiments, Ocean Plastic Pots was born.
Christine explains: “Ally was a saturation diver – a deep sea diver working in the north sea. I was the medic on board the same dive vessel and to me, he was just another diver.
That was until everything changed when one day he asked to speak to me – in his high pitched, mickey mouse voice caused by all the helium he was breathing at -150m!
Luckily I speak helium and he was insanely excited to tell me all about this new idea he had about turning fishing nets into plant pots.”
“His business was still in its infancy but we were super keen to send some of our polypropylene nets his way. They had been recovered from the ocean by the volunteer divers of Ghost Fishing UK and stored, awaiting a recycling pathway.
No such pathway existed in the UK at the time and only specific types of material were being accepted for upcycling – and that had to be shipped across Europe.
This meant that the large majority of our nets could not be recycled. Until now.”
Polypropylene was the waste material from lost fishing nets that nobody wanted. But to Ally, it was extremely valuable and his plant pots are made entirely from polypropylene.
He took the lion’s share of the haul of ghost nets that Ghost Fishing UK recovered from 2021, which comprised 16 survey and 19 recovery dives, resulting in 180 individual dives by the volunteers.
Approximately 1000 kg of ghost gear was recovered by the team in 2021 and a staggering 1840 kg this year.
The Ghost Fishing Uk volunteers are poised to undergo another mammoth effort sorting and cleaning the nets they recovered this year, ready for recycling and transformation into yet more award winning plant pots.
Ally said: “As a diver, I’ve been a long time supporter of Ghost Fishing UK. I was delighted to be able to recycle their recovered Ghost nets from the sea and put them back into our products, which benefit the environment”.
Ally has gone a step further and trained with the Ghost Fishing UK team, using his background expertise in commercial diving to good use. He is in a unique position to see the process through right from underwater recovery to the final end product.
Ghost Fishing is the term used when lost or abandoned fishing gear continues to fish, round the clock, catching and killing animals that will never be landed.
Lost fishing gear is estimated to make up almost half of the Great Pacific Garbage patch.
Ocean Plastic Pots has won awards at the Chelsea Flower Show and Ghost Fishing UK has won the Plastic Free Awards and Fishing New sawards for their ocean clean up efforts.
Ocean Plastic Pots were also recipients of a Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award for Sustainability and innovation.
Christine said: “We’re delighted here at Ghost Fishing UK to see Ocean Plastic Pots going from strength to strength, turning lost fishing nets found on beaches and shipwrecks and reefs, into award winning plant pots. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have this wonderful partnership”.
Stuck for a Christmas present this year? Ocean Plastic Pots are on sale now at Waitrose and John Lewis, or you can buy directly here:
Images and Video: Ghost Fishing UK/Ocean Plastic Pots
The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support
With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.
The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.
Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.
The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.
“While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”
There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.
This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.
Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.”
Fourth Element X Sea Shepherd
This year on Black Friday, fourth element announced their new partnership with Sea Shepherd, encouraging people to move away from mindless purchasing and to opt-in to supporting something powerful.
For 40 years Sea Shepherd, a leading non-profit organisation, has been patrolling the high seas with the sole mission to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. They work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.
Inspired by Sea Shepherd’s mission, fourth element have created a collection of fourth element X Sea Shepherd limited edition products for ocean lovers and protectors, with 15% of every sale going to the Sea Shepherd fund to help continue to drive conservation efforts globally.
“Working with Sea Shepherd gives fourth element the opportunity to join forces with one of the largest active conservation organisations in the world to try to catalyse change in people’s attitudes and behaviour. Fourth Element’s products are designed, developed and packaged with the intention of minimising our impact on the ocean environment, and with this partnership, we will be supporting the work of Sea Shepherd, in particular in their work on dealing with the twin threats of Ghost fishing nets and plastic pollution.”
Jim Standing fourth element co-founder
Read fourth element’s Sea Shepherd Opinion Piece HERE
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