The Impact of Abandoned Ocean Fishing Nets On Marine Life

This post comes from World Ocean Festival supporter Jenga Ocean. We were so lucky to have them represented at the festival and the speakers loved the game as a gift.


Every year hundreds of thousands of marine animals – such as sea turtles, seals, dolphins and whales – are harmed by ocean plastic pollution. Abandoned plastic fishing nets are a significant part of the problem. These nets can travel long distances from their points of origin and can remain in the ocean long after they are discarded, resulting in the entrapment and death of marine mammals, sea birds and fish. The result is an increasingly critical global threat to marine life.

With World Oceans Day upon us, it’s important to understand why eliminating marine plastic pollution and taking positive and significant action to reduce the abandonment of these fishing nets is a worldwide effort that everyone should know about and learn how they can make a difference.

Many global non-profit and government organizations are working on solutions to reduce ocean plastic pollution, and now a growing number of companies and entrepreneurs, are taking forward-looking steps to create useful products from recycled ocean fishing nets.  By doing so, they spark awareness about this issue. One of these solutions is Jenga® Ocean™, a new educational and fun game made from recycled fishing nets.

Pokonobe Associates, the creators of Jenga® Ocean™, have developed this fact sheet to provide a basic understanding of how plastic fishing nets – comprising an estimated 10% of marine plastic pollution, according to FAO – affect marine life and how individuals and businesses alike can make a meaningful difference and catalyze environmental change that supports healthy ocean initiatives.

Ocean Plastic Pollution and Discarded Fishing Nets

Ocean plastic pollution is a global issue with very significant negative ramifications both within the ocean and in our world ecosystem.

Discarded nylon plastic fishing nets comprise a large part of this pollution, with an estimated 640,000 tons (1.28 billion pounds) of fishing gear left in the ocean each year, according to World Animal Protection.

According to a report produced by FAO and UNEP, abandoned fishing nets, also referred to as “ghost nets,” could remain in the marine ecosystem for very long periods of time. They accidentally capture marine mammals, sea birds and fish in very large numbers, including whales, dolphins, sharks, seals and sea turtles, which can be severely harmed and may perish as a result of starvation and inability to surface for air. According to World Animal Protection, on average, these nets entangle and harm between 30-40 marine animals per net when left in the ocean,

How can this problem be solved?    

Many fishermen use nylon plastic nets, a durable material that poses a significant threat worldwide to marine animals, but is also easy to collect, reprocess and reuse, according to Healthy Seas.

A growing number of companies – including Adidas, Interface, Volcom, Bureo and now Pokonobe Associates – have created consumer products from recycled nets. By doing so, these companies are encouraging and showing others that it is possible to use the recycled fishing net material from the ocean in very positive ways. These uses also foster the creation and support of additional fishing net collective initiatives to help solve this worldwide problem.

Jenga® Ocean™, created by the owners of the Jenga brand, who introduced the beloved game Jenga® to the world, is the first game worldwide to be created from recycled ocean fishing nets, sourced from Bureo's Net Positiva recycling program in Chile.

Jenga® Ocean™ is the result of Pokonobe Associates collaboration with Bureo, and the International Ocean Film Festival (The IOFF).

Paul Eveloff and Robert Grebler, the owners of Pokonobe Associates, are introducing Jenga® Ocean™ - the first-ever board game made from recycled ocean fishing nets. The goal of this new game is to engage everyone who plays Jenga® to learn about the damaging impact of discarded ocean fishnets. The game will foster an understanding of how these nets are harming marine animals and encourage them to talk about the importance of protecting ocean sea life and learn about the roles they can play in preserving our oceans’ health by reducing ocean plastic pollution.

Bureo, a company that finds innovative solutions to reuse discarded fishing nets, works with fishermen to incentivize the recycling of plastic nylon nets to prevent them from being discarded in the ocean. Twenty-five square feet of recycled ocean fishing nets, sourced from Bureo's Net Positiva recycling program in Chile, are used to create the blocks in each Jenga® Ocean™ game.

The IOFF – International Ocean Film Festival, headquartered in San Francisco, provides filmmakers worldwide with a stage to showcase both the beauty and grandeur of the ocean and the startling demise of its ocean animals and ecosystems. Through the films of the IOFF, Pokonobe Associates learned of Bureo’s Net Positiva Fishing Net Collective Initiative in Chile.

Together, Pokonobe Associates, Bureo and the IOFF want to encourage, support and challenge other companies to create new products or substitute materials in existing products with the durable and very reusable material in recycled ocean fishing nets, and, by doing so, provide support to existing fishing net collectives and encourage the creation of many more.

Contacts

For more information on Jenga® Ocean™, Bureo and the International Ocean Film Festival to help combat ocean plastic pollution and support the collection and recycling of plastic ocean fishing nets, please contact:

Paul Eveloff, Pokonobe Associates at Peveloff@pokonobeassociates.com,

David Stover, Bureo at David@bureoskateboards.com, and

Ana Blanco, IOFF at Ana@oceanfilmfest.org