Circular Ocean - Net Hack Challenge

What happens when you bring together fishing gear technologists, recyclers, designers, artists and makers for a hands-on event about ghost gear? A lot of mess, a lively exchange of ideas and a good dose of creativity! The GGGI recently participated in the Circular Ocean ‘Net Hack Challenge’ in Reykjavik, Iceland, following on from the prototype in Farnham, UK, last year. The role of the GGGI was to set ‘challenges’ for a diverse range of creatives and engineers, as well as spread the word about how regional collaborations can support the global effort to solve the trans-boundary problem of ghost fishing gear.

The focus on Day 1 was establishing the context for fishing gear management in the Northern Arctic Periphery Region – an area characterised by fishing communities living in remote and often challenging environments. The day saw a range of stimulating presentations about potential re-uses for fishing gear in construction and innovative design, as well as providing a broad overview of the information gaps facing those trying to solve the issue of lost and discarded gear in these waters. Attendees spent the afternoon playing what’s known as a ‘Serious Game’ – a concept developed by the EU policy lab to explore scenarios using green thinking and foresight planning. The game involved players taking on the role of fishermen, harbour masters and policymakers to explore how the circular economy and cross-sectoral collaboration can generate new approaches to dealing with fishing litter.

On Day 2 the Circular Ocean team brought everyone together at the Reykjavik School of Visual Arts to work practically on a series of challenges set by groups including GGGI participants World Animal Protection, Claire Potter Designs and the World Cetacean Alliance. World Animal Protection challenged the teams to come up with viable economic concepts for the re-use of lobster pots and traps, for small fragments of net and rope picked up on beach cleans and an innovative product that could connect the end-user with the issue of ghost gear.

With circular economy, co-design and innovative business models the name of the day, the groups set about disassembling nets and ropes and brainstorming ideas about ways to utilise this abundant material in a practical and profitable way. Concepts presented included lighting design, workshops for students to create dream catchers with smaller net pieces, garden furnishing, plant pots, mesh bags and a maker festival called the ‘ghost harvest’. In a room full of colour and creativity – and some people who had never seen a fishing net before - the teams shared their experiences of working with the material and consulted the others about the viability of their proposals.

The outputs of the second Net Hack Challenge will be shared online in the hope of stimulating further innovation around reuse of fishing nets and ropes, as well as providing the groups with the opportunity to find collaborators for co-development of the concepts. For more information about the Circular Ocean project in the Northern Arctic Periphery Region and how to get involved in innovation around fishing gear, please visit the website.