Monday, May 12, 2014

Saving the oceans one skateboard at a time: MCAF supports net recycling program

This post is one of a series on projects supported by the Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF). Through MCAF, the Aquarium supports researchers, conservationists and grassroots organizations all around the world as they work to address the most challenging problems facing the ocean.   

This skateboard, named “The Minnow,” has a deck made entirely of recycled fishing nets. The team that produced the skateboard visited the Aquarium earlier this month as part of a tour to raise awareness about their program. From left, David Stover, MCAF Manager Elizabeth Stephenson, Ben Kneppers, Kevin Ahearn and Aquarium Vice President of Conservation Heather Tausig.

Fishing gear that is lost or abandoned at sea, known as derelict gear, is a significant source of dangerous marine debris that entraps and kills untold numbers of marine species including sharks, whales, dolphins and seabirds. Working in Chile, a group of young social entrepreneurs is tackling this problem with an innovative and inspiring approach. Noting that the cost of disposing of old nets often leads to their being dumped in the ocean, Ben Kneppers and his partners, David Stover and Kevin Ahearn, set up collection sites in communities along the Chilean coast where fishermen can dispose of their retired nets for free.

This project, known as Net Positiva, was supported in part by the Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF) as well as the Chilean government, the World Wildlife Fund and in collaboration with Chilean fishermen. The Net Positiva team is taking their efforts one step further by recycling the nets into skateboards, sales of which will help sustain the collection program over the long term and provide employment for local community members. Ben, David and Kevin named their skateboard company Bureo, a word that comes from the language of the Mapuche, the native Chileans, and means the waves.

The Net Positiva team observes artisanal fishermen at work off the coast of Concepcion, Chile. The team’s net collection and recycling program will help to keep large nets such as these from being discarded into the ocean. Photo: Kevin Ahearn.

The founders note that the name, “selected in honor of the Chilean people, represents [our] mission. Just as a wave originates from a disturbance of wind along the ocean surface, Bureo is starting with a small change in an ocean of plastic. Through time and energy, the waves of Bureo will develop the force required to cause real change.”

You can read a Boston Globe article about Bureo here. You can find Bureo on Facebook and Kickstarter.

1 comment:

  1. This is one amazing skateboard! Saving ocean is one of the biggest goal on the planet and this is one small, but important step to do it.