Collaborative solution to ghost fishing …

  • Collaborative programme for gathering and recycling old nylon fishing nets makes a business case for saving vulnerable marine environments
  •  80 387 kilograms of discarded fishing nets have already been collected ready to be made into new yarns

One of the most pervasive, persistent and damaging forms of pollution is plastic debris found in our oceans, including vast amounts of discarded nylon fishing nets. These nets unintentionally trap and kill marine life in what has come to be known as ‘ghost fishing’.

Net-Works is an innovative, cross-sector initiative designed to tackle the environmental problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities in Asia and Africa. The programme resulted in a community-based supply chain for collecting discarded fishing nets in rural coastal areas in the central Philippines, including the Danajon Bank  – one of only six double-barrier reefs in the world  – as well as the nearby Bantayan Islands.

Net-Works is a partnership that brings together Interface, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and  Aquafil. Interface is the world’s largest manufacturer of carpet tiles and, as part of its ‘mission zero’ plan, has made a company-wide pledge to eliminate the negative environmental impact of its products by 2020. ZSL is an international scientific conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats, while Aquafil is a producer of Nylon 6 yarn.

Together, these organisations have set a challenge: to find a financially viable and sustainable solution for solving the problem of ‘ghost fishing’. Interface provides the business strategy and start-up capital, while ZSF offers its conservation expertise and coordinates net collection, baling and local transportation. Aquafil turns waste fishing nets into 100 % ECONYL© regenerated yarn.

Key results

Through the collection of discarded fishing nets, the fishing community can earn a supplemental income. Net-Works works closely with valuable community financial and banking systems that support and strengthen local economies, providing new business opportunities.

Apart from the 80 387 kilograms of discarded fishing nets that have already been collected, the programme has established a robust and financially viable business case for collecting and recycling old fishing nets, which spurs on local action and helps to protect the marine environment in the process.


“It may seem a little crazy that a commercial carpet tile company has ended up working with the fishing community on a remote double-barrier reef. But that’s the beauty of seeing design as more than just a product. Co-innovating with experts from lots of different disciplines has been brilliant; together we’ve re-imagined what the value chain could look like. Sustainability is the mother of all collaborations after all.” – Miriam Turner, Assistant Vice President Co-innovation at Interface and a co-founder of Net-Works.


Author: Ramgsutra