The Net-Hack Challenge with Circular Ocean

What role can embroiderers, product designers, ceramics experts and jewellery makers have in solving the problem of ghost fishing gear? All became clear at the University of Creative Arts’ first ‘Net-Hack Challenge’ hosted by Professor Martin Charter from the Centre for Sustainable Design as part of the Circular Ocean project.

Groups were invited to submit challenges for a group of students, creators and makers to wrestle with which focused on the re-use opportunities for old fishing gear. The participants were split into groups around the various challenges and given a day, along with a pile of old fishing nets, ropes and lines from MCB Seafoods, to hack together a concept and sales pitch for a product that could give this waste a second life.

There are several re-use opportunities and creative, circular solutions to end of life fishing gear which will divert the flow of old gear into landfill and the sea and, ultimately, protect animals from harm. Moreover, the scope of creating new products from fishing gear is an emerging market with companies like BureoFourth Element and Interface all looking to help the environment and coastal communities while also turning a profit. It’s a win win.

GGGI Participant, World Animal Protection, put forward tasks two tasks. The first, how could lobster pots be re-used once they can no longer be used for fishing. Pots are often made of mixed components making recycling tricky, and their weight means transportation to any centralised facility is prohibitive. Could the students find a way to re-use the small fragments of nets and lines found on beaches that are too small to collect up and recycle? And second, could they create a product that could be made, sold and used in coastal communities from old fishing gear to generate revenue locally and tell a story about the oceans?

Once the students had brainstormed ideas, then came the arrival of the nets! Rather than seeing the pile of nets as rubbish with no value, they saw it as an opportunity. At the end of the day the groups presented their outputs, which included lighting design concepts, football goals, benches made from lobster pots, outdoor cushions and much more!