Nets for net zero for Our world's oceans
Our oceans are extremely vital to our survival. They absorb 50 times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere does, and are responsible for over 50% of the oxygen the world needs to breathe. The vast ecosystem that exists in the marine environment and keeps our oceans healthy and functioning is in danger, and its ability to survive and thrive continues to be tested and undermined by the increased volume of waste. And so, on this World Oceans Day, we want to highlight Nets for Net Zero, one of the most innovative female-led, locally-based non-profit organizations in Montreal that are targeting derelict fishing gear, referred to as Ghost Fishing Gear, that gets abandoned and discarded in the ocean continuously trapping marine wildlife.
We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to chat with the incredible team behind Nets for Net Zero Nina, Marcela and Emily, to hear about their organization’s founding, mission and the significant impact this type of waste creates for our oceans.
Q: What is Nets for Net Zero and how was it founded?
A: Nets for Net Zero is a non-profit working to facilitate circular economies from ghost fishing gear. Abandoned fishing gear such as nets make up most of the plastic in the ocean and pose a huge threat to marine biodiversity, habitats and even the economy. Nets for Net Zero was born from the desire of three ocean lovers to find a solution to a problem that not many people are talking about.
Q: How does Nets for Net Zero plan to participate in the circular economy?
A: We believe in a future where ghost fishing gear is not a threat to the ocean rather a raw material for sustainable, circular, useful products. Our organization works to recycle collected fishing nets and find partners that can turn them into something purposeful so that they don’t end up in landfills, and then recapture those products at the end of the lifecycle to transform them into something else, creating an infinite circular loop.
Q: What are 3 things the average person would be surprised to learn about ghost fishing gear in the ocean?
- Ghost fishing gear is the deadliest form of marine debris, it traps marine animals, who eventually die due to wounds and/or starvation since they’re unable to feed themselves. And it doesn’t stop there, that trapped animal may attract larger predators who, unaware of the gear, will attempt to capture it and get entangled themselves and thus propagating a circle of death that can continue for as long as 600 years – which is the amount of time it takes a fishing net to breakdown.
- Approximately 46% of the plastic debris in the Pacific Garbage Patch, the biggest one of the 4 “trash vortex” out there, is made up of ghost fishing gear.
- Ghost fishing gear impact goes beyond marine wildlife and ecosystems. Approximately 10% of the world’s decline in fish stocks can be attributed to ghost fishing gear. A fish that’s entangled is a fish that won’t breed, be sold or eaten.
Q: Where do you hope to see Nets for Net Zero in the future?
A: We want Nets for Net Zero to become an ally that builds bridges between grassroots ocean organizations and the for-profit sector, because we strongly believe that we need to tackle the ocean threats from a variety of angles in order to be successful. Our work begins with ghost fishing gear, and goes all the way into helping companies rethink their supply chain and sparking a circular revolution.
Q: What are some ways that we can continue the discussion about our oceans and create a positive environmental impact?
A: For policy to change within government, we need citizens to raise their voices. Social media platforms and writing to your local MP’s can help speed up change. Another major factor is the lack of information. We can’t change policy if we don’t have all the science and data to back it up. You can make a difference by supporting organizations trying to fill in the ocean knowledge gaps via donations. Finally, it is important we rally in support of companies that are truly committed to doing things differently. Research and read about the actions they take (or don’t take) towards a sustainable future, and spread the word. And be on the look out for greenwashing!