Net Your Problem, a Seattle-based company led by research scientist Nicole Baker, is forecasting an onslaught of commercial fishing nets for recycling at the end of the Bristol Bay salmon fishery in July, to ultimately be made into new plastic products.
Baker said in a dispatch from Bristol Bay on the eve of that fishery that Net Your Problem had launched a new collection site across from a city dock in Naknek, Alaska, and was spreading the word to fishermen and fishing industry related entities to drop off worn out fishing nets at season’s end.
Baker, a former North Pacific groundfish fisheries observer, now works at the University of Washington in Seattle as a research scientist, but said she is working on expanding her footprint to other fishing ports to make this a full-time effort. She said she’s not restricted to working only in the United States.
While engaged as a fisheries observer, she became actively involved in looking for a way to recycle fishing nets from Unalaska. Baker said her interest in the topic was inspired by Parley for the Oceans’ collaboration with Adidas to make sneakers out of confiscated fishing nets.
Parley for the Oceans is a nonprofit environmental organization founded in 2012.
Since 2015, Baker has been looking for fishermen with nets that they want to get rid of, and for recyclers that will take the nets. Having lived on multiple islands herself, Baker said she knows the limited options such communities have for waste disposal.
NYP has designed and implemented logistics plans for a variety of canneries, net hangers and boatyards and is ready to receive the nets, Baker said. In early June, she said and her team collected, cleaned and baled over 5,000 pounds of gillnets, mostly redirecting from the landfill what was dropped off before they arrived in Bristol Bay.
Those nets were being shipped to a recycler to be made into new plastic products in the fall and phase two of the new operation was set to begin July 21.
Baker thanked Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., Grundens, Seattle Marine, LFS, Leader Creek and Trident for their support in launching the new collection site. LFS, formerly known as Lummi Fishery Supplies, sold nets, floats, ropes and more to commercial fishermen. It is now in partnership with the Japanese netting manufacturer Momoi Net.
In addition to the new collection program in Naknek, NYP was working with the Curyung Tribal Council in Dillingham, Alaska to collect nets and turn the scrap web into a valuable resource for use in their supply chair of plastic manufacturing.
No matter where people fish commercially in Bristol Bay, there were options to recycling their web this summer, according to Net Your Problem. NYP has even offered a video, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhH2W2Qv1cM, on how to prepare the net so that her company can provide recyclers with a high-quality product of only one kind of plastic.
While a for-profit firm, NYP does accept non-tax deductible donations to expand its impact globally. More information on that is online at https://www.netyourproblem.com.