Protecting the Ocean with Skateboards

Interesting Engineering

Skateboards are extremely convenient: they take up little space, are easily (and cheaply) maintained, and they are a great method of transportation. Bureo skateboards bring all the generic skateboard expectations, but also help save the oceans. The company brings a new line of skateboards dedicated to saving marine life by using recycled nets and turning them into skateboards. 

As trolleys dredge the ocean they do not have a preference as to what that collect. Some watery encounters like shipwrecks, reefs, or other sharp objects can snag a fishing net and cause it to detach from a vessel. If the nets are in the water, they will catch marine life whether someone is there to profit from it or not.

The result is a phenomenon known as ‘Ghost Fishing’ which is an accurate depiction of what happens when a fishing net is lost at sea. The nets continue to trap and hold marine life until they perish from starvation or get eaten by a predator. A joint study conducted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) determined that ‘ghost gear’, or lost/discarded fishing equipment accounts for 10 percent of all marine litter. That is a total of 640 000 tonnes of garbage per year. Some of the nets lost at sea span up to 10,000 meters long, plenty enough to entrap and kill thousands of marine animals.

Turtle_entangled_in_marine_debris_(ghost_net)  Sea Turtle Trapped in 'Ghost Net' [Image Source: Wikipedia]

Fishing nets are often made of high-tensile, durable materials such as nylon. Unfortunately, nylon takes upwards of 40 years to decompose. As a result, massive amounts of netting are left in the ocean for many years.

"The amount of fishing gear remaining in the marine environment will continue to accumulate and the impacts on marine ecosystems will continue to get worse if the international community doesn't take effective steps to deal with the problem of marine debris as a whole. Strategies for addressing the problem must occur on multiple fronts, including prevention, mitigation, and curative measures,"

said Ichiro Nomura, FAO Assistant Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Fortunately, one of the fighting fronts against ghost gear has protruded through as the skateboarding company, Bureo. The company founded a project in 2012 with the initiative to help eliminate ghost gear from entering the water. The company manufactures a unique line of sustainable skateboards by painstakingly collecting fishing nets and converting them into skateboards. The company created Chile’s first ever fishnet collection & recycling program to collect and process the nets and turn them into skateboards.

bureo [Image Source: Bureo]

Each skateboard produced uses 50  ft² of recycled fishing net. So far the company has collected almost 30,000 ft² of netting which they update constantly on their website.

The name ‘Bureo’ originates from the native Chileans language of the Mapuche, and means ‘the waves’. The name was chosen to honor the Chilean people and to represent their mission. Now, Bureo is trying to protect the waves by collecting plastic from the oceans. Although the company barely accounts for any of the total amount of netting lost at sea, they hope their wave of small changes will initiate a larger scale mission to enforce real change.

SEE ALSO: First Ever Ocean Plastic Cleanup Device Being Tested This Week

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