In a factory in Pune, 6,000 tons of “ghost networks” are transformed into surfboards
I recently watched a Netflix Seaspiracy documentary, which highlighted the much-ignored problem of plastic waste caused by fishing nets. It was terrifying to learn that the large pacific garbage bagThe patch alone is made up of 86 percent fishing nets of its overall plastic pollution.
More than 6 40,000 tonnes of fishing gear like nets, traps, pots and lines are thrown into the ocean every year. Their weight is equivalent to more than 1,000,000 buses, which adds to the pollution mainly made up of plastic.
“Ghost nets” or “ghost gear” are discarded and abandoned fishing nets that often get tangled Marine life, and kill them by accidental entrapment and suffocation.
To solve the massive environmental problem affecting marine life around the world, a Pune-based company DSM Engineering Materials, which works in nutrition, health, bioscience and sustainable living, is converting the nets of Abandoned fishing in high quality surfboards.
âThe company has entered a agreement with Starboard, one of the world’s leading waterspout companies that sells surf, windsurf, paddle and kitesurf boards, to help with this effort, âsaid Dr Nileshkumar Kukalyekar, Product Manager Asia- Pacific at DSM Engineering Materials.
He says the 120-year-old company is still striving to provide solutions that help improve the environment. âThe company wanted to make a significant contribution to solving the global problem of plastic pollution,â he adds.
Dr Nilesh says abandoned fishing nets are having a huge impact on the fishing community living along the coasts. âThese ghost nets often get tangled in the engines or rudders of the fishing boat. It also harms local flora and fauna, which impacts biodiversity and the fish population. The reduction in fish has a direct impact on the livelihoods of the fishing community, âhe explains.
To solve this problem, the company recycled approximately 6,000 tonnes of nets into surfboards.
Dr Nilesh says the fraternity of fishermen is mobilized to trace and collect the fishing nets discarded in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Sharing the process, Dr Nilesh says: âAbandoned fishing nets are collected locally by fishermen. As the Indian coastline is vast, it is virtually impossible to reach all areas. Therefore, we have teamed up with local partners who collect these nets and transport them to the factory in Pune. The nets are then cleaned of all dirt, shells and other unwanted materials, preparing them for new life.
He says the fillets are mixed with additives and go through a process developed by the company. âFishing nets are made into pellets and processed into fiberglass surfboards, which find a market around the world. The main material, granules, can also be used in practice to make furniture or other useful items, âsays Dr Nilesh.
He adds that around 2,000 tonnes of these ghost nets are processed each year.
Dr Nilesh says the product is of high quality despite being made from discarded and worn material. âIt is crucial to guarantee the performance and quality of the new product made from degraded materials. The technology adopted by the company changes the properties of deteriorated nets and improves their quality into better raw materials. Developing a technology for the same was a difficult task, but the experts managed to achieve it over time, âhe says.
In addition, he says procuring fishing nets remains a never-ending challenge. âIt’s important to have like-minded people on the ground and to put in dedicated efforts for the common good. Fishermen earn nothing by collecting ocean litter, and it must be a conscious effort to get the job done, âhe shares.
Dr Nilesh says the company plans to provide more sustainable solutions in the future to reduce the impact of CO2 emissions.
“We are pleased that our initiative results in litter-free beaches and creates a safe and healthier marine environment with the help of local communities,” he adds.
Edited by Yoshita Rao