Introducing our partners: part 1
Before a ghost net decorates your wrist, it faces a long journey: it is recovered, cleaned and handcrafted into a Bracenet. Fortunately, we can count on the valuable support of our partners along the way. In this article, we want to introduce our partner Healthy Seas. We have been collaborating since 2016 to recover ghost nets from the oceans and to prevent more nets from ending up at sea. Additionally, we donate 10 % of the proceeds of our products to Healthy Seas – and you are probably eager to learn how your contribution helps to fight the ghost nets.
Who is Healthy Seas?
Healthy Seas was launched in 2013 as an initiative of Ghost Diving, a non-profit organisation, and two sustainable companies: Aquafil and Star Sock. Ghost Diving is the world’s leading ghost net recovery organisation, Aquafil is developing ECONYL® yarn made by regenerating waste such as old fishing nets and other nylon waste. Star Sock is the manufacturer of premium socks made with ECONYL® and organic cotton. They all share a common mission, to free oceans and marine life from plastic waste and to re-utilize discarded fishing equipment. Healthy Seas originates from this idea: they rescue sea animals and protect ecosystems by retrieving ghost nets from the seas to give them new life.
Healthy Seas’ work
“A Journey from Waste to Wear” – Healthy Seas’ motto aptly describes their work. The initiative begins with “Waste”: they cooperate with volunteers who dive for ghost nets, work with fisheries on preventive measures, and generate awareness of the issue among the general population. After the nets have been recovered and cleaned by our partner Nofir, they are given to Aquafil for recycling or to us at Bracenet for upcycling, thus becoming “Wear”.
Retrieval of the nets
Over 170 volunteer divers from Ghost Diving work with Healthy Seas. The diving teams are mainly active in the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Adriatic Sea, but also have projects in New Zealand and South Korea. They search for ghost nets, that are mostly caught on wrecks or reefs. Professional, technical divers carefully cut the nets loose and free entangled sea animals. For instance, they rescue stingrays, starfish, and crustaceans that would otherwise die in the nets. They then inflate “lifting bags” that bring the nets to the surface. Other team members then haul them aboard the boats, before finally bringing them ashore. As soon as the ghost nets are recovered, marine life can flourish again.
Ghost net recovery is an important contribution to the protection of the oceans. However, since 640,000 tons of additional fishing gear land in the oceans every year, Healthy Seas and we at Bracenet, are also involved in preventive work. To this end, we collaborate with fisheries, fish farms and coastal communities to capture the nets before they are dumped at sea. Furthermore, we are developing new solutions to ensure that no more nets end up discarded at sea. Our efforts are bearing fruit: more and more fisheries are approaching us with discarded nets. We check possible disposal options with Healthy Seas, or accept the nets directly and use them for Bracenets.
In addition to efforts underwater, Healthy Seas is committed to fostering a better understanding of ghost nets among the general public. Through lectures and training programs, the initiative educates people on the effects of lost fishing gear on marine life and emphasizes that healthy seas have both ecological and economic significance.
What happens with the nets?
Healthy Seas’ work does not end with diving for nets: The initiative also endeavours to give them new life. Nets that are suitable for upcycling to Bracenets are handed over to us after being cleaned by Nofir. These nets are usually made of HDPE (high-density polyethylene), as their fibres and structure are well suited for daily wear around the wrist. Other nets are sent to Aquafil, one of the founding partners of Healthy Seas, for recycling. Aquafil uses nylon nets together with other nylon waste to produce its regenerated ECONYL® yarn, which is used for instance for sustainable apparel – as by Star Sock for socks, or other companies for swimwear. While ghost nets are still undesirable waste in the sea, thanks to the work of Healthy Seas, Bracenet and other partners, they can become beloved clothing and accessories.
Healthy Seas’ success
Since its founding in 2013, Healthy Seas has already retrieved 510 tons of net from seas – equivalent to the weight of 4 blue whales, the world’s largest animal. Healthy Seas has consequently saved countless marine animals and prevented thousands more from getting entangled in the nets. They are also an important factor in making our Bracenets and ECONYL® yarn possible. Healthy Seas’ commitment to protecting the oceans is also publicly recognized and awarded – for example, in 2019 Healthy Seas received the award for circular economy at the “Green Carpet Fashion Awards” of Milan Fashion Week.
A partner we are happy to support
Healthy Seas is doing a fantastic job fighting ghost nets and we are extremely grateful for their support ever since we first started. We have now processed 4.2 tons of HDPE ghost nets into Bracenets and other products, generating over €90,000 in total donations to Healthy Seas. With the help of donations from us and others, the organisation has grown and expanded its diving teams from 50 to 170 divers. We’ve come a long way together – and look forward to continuing our collaboration as Ghost(net)busters.
Would you like to know more about ghost nets? Here are 5 things you should know about Ghost Nets.