The fishing net sunglassesEthical Arts & Fashion News & Features
A Cornish start-up, Waterhaul, has launched a range of sunglasses produced from 100% recycled fishing nets.
The social enterprise intercepts plastic from our oceans and transforms it into high-quality, functional products for adventure and ‘symbols for change’.
The fishing gear crisis
Every year 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are lost or discarded in the ocean. Samples of plastic waste accumulating in our oceanic gyres reveal 46% of this plastic, by weight, is attributable to fishing gear.
Discarded fishing gear is the most common form of plastic pollution in our oceans, with an estimated 640,000 tonnes entering the sea each year.
It is also the most lethal form of plastic pollution; fishing nets are designed to trap and kill, regardless of whether they’re still attached to a boat. They’re designed to be incredibly strong, made from plastics such as nylon and polypropylene. These abandoned nets will last in the ocean for over 500 years, continually entangling marine life in a phenomenon known as ‘ghost fishing’.
Approximately 100,000 whales, sea lions and seals are killed by ghost gear every year.
Waterhaul is part of a collaborative scheme that intercepts nets from European seas. They work with fishermen to provide an alternative to landfill or abandonment by incentivising net amnesty programmes.
Waterhaul also collaborates with community groups and NGOs to remove nets from Cornish beaches and seas. Intercepted nets (often exceeding 100 meters in length) are washed, shredded and turned into pellets which are then moulded into Waterhaul’s innovative sunglasses frames.
The word ‘Waterhaul’ originates from Newfoundland cod fisheries; it’s a term used to describe the act of hauling in a seine or trawl net that is absent of any catch. Retrieving empty nets from the ocean is precisely what the company aims to achieve.
The company has modelled its systems around a circular economy concept. To prevent any of its sunglasses ever ending up in landfill, Waterhaul offers to buy back your old or damaged frames and recycle them into new sunglasses.
Waterhaul’s range is launching in the UK in April with two models, the Kynance and Fitzroy. The sunglasses retail at £65.00, and are paired with high-quality polarised mineral glass lenses, which are also recyclable.
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‘Throughout my travels surfing, diving and exploring, discarded fishing gear was a ubiquitous sight on every strandline from the Coral Triangle to Norway’s Arctic Circle. I thought that there must be a way to redesign the systems causing this problem.
‘Waterhaul’s mission is to turn this waste into a resource. Fishing nets are made from incredibly high-quality plastics – they’re an obvious choice for recycling. We want to create demand for this unique material, so nets don’t end up abandoned in our oceans.’
Waterhaul founder and marine scientist