Banishing Ghosts

December 2019

One form of marine pollution that doesn’t get much press is abandoned fishermen’s nets, or ghost nets. But ask the founders of the Hamburg start-up Bracenet, and they leave no doubt as to the seriousness of the problem.

“On the one hand, sea creatures of all kinds get caught in the nets and die,” say Bracenet co-founders Madeleine von Hohenthal and Benjamin Wenke. “On the other hand, they litter the oceans. It takes 600 to 800 years for the nets to decompose and then they become dangerous micro plastics.”

Up to 46 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch consists of ghost nets, they add. Hohenthal and Wenke came up with the idea for Bracenet after encountering the phenomenon while diving off Zanzibar in 2015.

The company cleans recovered nets and prepares them for recycling into swimwear, carpets or bracelets. Working together with workshops for the disabled in Hamburg, Neumunster and Duisburg, they have already put four tons of nets to good use in this way.

© Henri Apell on Pixabay