A good cause on the beach 

Monte Clérigo Beach Clean-up with fishing4ghosts

Sundays are best spent on the beach, right? So, the team of Aljezur.Life and a lot of other participants gathered on a sunny December Sunday in Monte Clèrigo for a really good cause. A cleaning of the beach which we all so love. A monthly ritual in the process of keeping our coastline and the beaches around rubbish and plastic freer. 

We all followed the initiative of Christina, the founder of fishing4ghosts. A great project which she gave as some great insights in the following interview.

Christina, can you tell us something about your project fishing4ghosts?

fishing4ghostsis a start-up, which upcycles old fishing gear into new products tackling the global issue of ghost gear in the ocean and raising awareness for the topic.

I worked in marine conservation and I am a marine scientist. The Algarve is my home for five years now and I participated in many coastal clean-ups here. There I realized that anywhere in Algarve 70-80 % of the waste is related to fisheries. 

So, it is a major source of pollution in the area, as well as globally. While researching more about the topic, I wrote my Master thesis about the opportunity of a circular economy around fishing gear in Portugal. fishing4ghosts was born. With fishing4ghosts I create a circular economy around end-of-life fishing gear. I have several collection points in harbours in the Algarve. 

If the fishermen are bringing back their old fishing gear to the shore rather than dropping it along the beach, coast or worse in the ocean, I incentivise them financially. I collect the material at the collection points to make new products out of it. 10 % of the profit goes back to support the fishermen. It is planned as a self funding and profitable project, which will soon start as a kick-starter project.

How can we support fishing4ghosts?

You can support fishing4ghosts by buying the upcycled products soon in the kickstarter project. We are producing keychain hangers, bracelets, sunglass- and mask straps. To NGOs or companies, we are offering to produce the products with their own logo. Every of our products comes with information about ghost gear in the ocean and why it is so important to do something about it.

Why is it so important to do something about lost fishing gear in the ocean?

640.000 tons of fishing gear are estimated to reach the ocean every year. Fishing gear is made of durable plastic and it takes around 600 years to break down into small pieces, which is called microplastic. If the gear stays in the ocean major pollution is caused. But also floating fishing gear is dangerous because it keeps fishing without ever being retrieved. More than 100.000 marine mammals like whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds get killed in ghost nets every year. Around 10 % of the global fish stock gets fished by old fishing gear and dies. The dead fish attract other predators, which then get caught and die as well. The more I read into it, the more obvious it gets to do something against the problem. 

Recent studies from 2019 and 2020 show that it has been a problem, which was underestimated for a long time. For example, a study in the great pacific garbage patch shows that 46% of the plastic litter in the first three meters is fishing gear. A circular economy is a good short-term solution. I hope that fishing4ghosts raises awareness of the topic amongst the fishermen, harbour authorities, the beach clean-up participants, and the consumers.

Which role do fishermen play in the solution?

Since fishing4ghosts products are all upcycled I am relying on the participation of the fishermen. Luckily, the fishermen in the Algarve are very happy to cooperate and bring back the gear to the collection points in the harbour. They have existed for half a year already. What is important in this project is to not blame anyone, rather offering a solution with the fishermen.

 Are there any other or similar projects currently reducing ghosts fishing in the ocean?

In the European Union, the regulations are changing right now. Each harbour soon has to have port reception facilities for old fishing gear. Also, some parties try to make sure that the fishing gear is tagged to find out where it comes from.

What can each of us do about the problem?

 

  1.   Get more mindful about fish consumption. Reduce fish consumption and look for certificates when buying fish.
  2.   Avoid fish from Aquacultures. It is said that a big part of the fishing gear in our ocean comes from Aquacultures.
  3.   Spread the word.
  4. Help us to keep the beaches in our beautiful coast clean and join the monthly coastal clean-ups with Christina from fishing4ghosts. Cleanups are not only fun. It’s a good cause.

Follow fishing4ghosts on Instagram and Facebook to keep updated on the project.