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Net-a-porter

Discarded fishing nets are being recycled into swimwear as part of a campaign to highlight the problems caused by ‘ghost gear’.

Clothing brand Fat Face has started selling swimwear made from recycled fishing nets in a partnership with animal welfare charity World Animal Protection and diving specialists Fourth Element. Lost and discarded fishing nets, lines and traps – otherwise known as ghost gear – poses a major problem for marine life that can often get entangled, injured and sometimes die. Sales from the swimwear will support World Animal Protection’s marine wildlife protection work.

The Fat Face Foundation and Fourth Element are members of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), an alliance spearheaded by World Animal Protection to find solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear worldwide.

“We are hugely excited about this new partnership. The work that the World Animal Protection do to provide proactive solutions to international problems affecting our oceans and marine wildlife is not only essential but often life changing. We are proud to be part of it,” said Ade Heeley, director of the Fat Face Foundation.

The swimwear is made of recycled nylon from ghost gear - 640,000 tonnes of which is left in the oceans each year.
The swimwear is made of recycled nylon from ghost gear - 640,000 tonnes of which is left in the oceans each year.

© Luke Inman

Every year, more than one hundred thousand whales, dolphins, seals and turtles are caught in this ghost gear – which includes abandoned, lost and discarded fishing nets, lines and traps, and can take up to 600 years to decompose. The vast majority of this gear is made of plastics that take centuries to degrade. This ghost gear eventually breaks down into micro plastics and can enter the human body through the fish we consume.

Chiara Vitali, Sea Change Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection, said: “This partnership is a fantastic example of how members of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative are working together to find innovative ways to address a global issue. Animals caught in this incredibly durable fishing gear are often doomed to a prolonged and painful death, suffocating or starving over several months. Recycling the recovered nets into exciting new products shows how valuable this gear can be and encourages more people to get involved in reducing the amount of ghost gear entering our oceans.”  

A staggering 640,000 tonnes of fishing equipment is left in our oceans each year. The Ocean Positive swimwear line by Fourth Element uses ECONYL® - recycled nylon from ghost gear – in its line of bikinis, swimsuits and beachwear.  Teams of divers and fishermen all over the world reclaim these nets, often working in extremely dangerous conditions.  The nets are then recycled into ECONYL® before being knitted into Lycra® fabric for the Ocean Positive swimwear.

“The Ocean Positive range is a statement of intent, to do something meaningful to benefit the environment that we love and feel compelled to protect,” said Paul Strike, co-founder of Fourth Element. “We also wanted to address a requirement among our customers including ourselves, for a practical product that is comfortable under a wetsuit yet looks great as beachwear.”

Rob Fletcher

Rob Fletcher

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