What is the mission of Healthy Seas?
The ‘Healthy Seas, a Journey from Waste to Wear' initiative was founded by an organisation (Ghost Fishing) and 2 sustainable businesses (Aquafil and Star Sock). Its mission is to remove waste from the seas, in particular fishing nets, for the purpose of creating healthier seas. The recovered fishing nets will be transformed and regenerated by Aquafil into ECONYL®, a yarn used to create new products such as socks, swimwear, sportswear or carpets. Healthy Seas is committed to marine protection and aims for sustainability, in both an environmental and an economic sense.
What is the motivation behind Healthy Seas? Was there a special event or incident that caused your decision to start with the project?
A group of volunteer divers were organizing sea clean-up actions at the North Sea for several years in the past collecting ghost fishing nets, because they saw the pollution and demolition happening down there. Fortunately, we got to know Aquafil, an Italian yarn manufacturer, and learned that nylon yarn can be made of fishnets, what we found noteworthy of course! So far, the recovered fishing nets from the divers were sent to landfills or incinerators. Now, thanks to Aquafil, these nets are regenerated together with other Nylon waste into ECONYL® yarn and afterwards into beautiful new products .
The discarded, lost, or abandoned fishing nets are often called “ghost nets”, since they continue to catch fish and other marine animals without human involvement.
Millions of marine animals, including sharks, dolphins, seals and turtles suffer and die because of entanglement in these nets. It’s plastic waste which remains in the seas for hundreds of years and doesn’t biodegrade.
What was the hardest obstacle Healthy Seas had to overcome so far?
Inn general fishermen and the fishing industry are very conservative in every country and not easily convinced. As an environmental initiative, we were challenged in the beginning to establish cooperation with them but after a few months it started to work fast and smoothly. We encourage fishermen to cooperate with us and offer multiple benefits for those who decide to do so, including cost saving, improved image and promotional benefits.
What has to change first in your opinion to create a plastic-free nature/sea?
Education is key when it comes to creating a plastic-free sea. That is why Healthy Seas focuses on raising awareness in children about the devastating effects of ghost nets to the marine environment and biodiversity. Our activities also focus on raising awareness about responsible and sustainable product solutions offered by the Healthy Seas initiative.
Prevention is also a priority in order to create a plastic-free sea. Through our work with fishermen and fish farms we prevent waste fishing gear from becoming marine litter. Instead, they enter the ECONYL® regeneration system and become beautiful new products!
What makes ECONYL® yarn so special and should it be used in a bigger context in the textiles industry?
ECONYL ® is a high-quality yarn used to create new products, such as socks, swimwear, sportswear and carpets. It has the same quality as virgin nylon from fossil raw material, it can be infinitely recyclable and can unleash endless possibilities for interior and fashion designers, creators and consumers.
What does Healthy Seas need the most right now to succeed even more?
According to a recent report, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the seas and oceans, than fish. We all have to work hard, not to let it happen. We know that we are a small team and can’t save the world alone, but we are doing our bit with Healthy Seas and hope to inspire others to follow.
Healthy Seas is an open initative and welcomes new partners on board who are committed to circular economy, sustainabilty and marine protection.