46% of our ocean waste is fishing equipment (as per the most extensive study on this by the Ocean Cleanup project in the Pacific garbage patch). Every year ghost nets are responsible for “ghost fishing” – trapping and killing millions of marine animals including sharks, turtles, dolphins, whales, crustaceans, rays and birds.
Some solutions and ideas for this:
1. Fix the supply chain of gear, tag it and force companies to be responsible for it (include penalties).
2. Stop eating fish = less demand = less waste.
3. Before buying sustainably caught fish, start asking questions about what they do with their equipment, what happens out at sea, how they do audits etc. The more companies get asked, the more they’ll have to think about it and put in place solutions.
4. Buy products made from recycled fishing gear. Italy, the Phillipines and Slovenia are proving particularly apt at creating amazing fabrics and items from this.
5. Support local organizations clearing ghost nets and fishing gear from the oceans and beaches. In Australia for example, indigenous groups do enormous amounts of this.
6. Support (or educate yourself and become a trainer!) in workshops providing education to the fishing industry in local areas. This includes practical advice like what to do when nets get tangled, what you can do when you see other items and also education on our ocean debris, how to prevent it and how to upcycle.