Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bureo is making global waves

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.

Guest bloggers Ben Kneppers and David Stover, of Bureo Skateboards, recently shared an update:

If you have kept up on the Global Explorers Blog, you may recall coverage on Net Positiva, our [Bureo] fishing net recycling program in Chile. We launched this program in 2013, and received critical support early on from the Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund to support infrastructure to collect fishing nets in local communities in order to recycle and repurpose the nets. 

Following a successful release of our first product, the recycled fishing net cruiser skateboards, we received an investment from Patagonia’s $20 Million & Change fund, targeted at developing projects using business to bring about solutions to the environmental crisis. Our team returned to Chile in mid-2014 to expand the recycling initiative and incorporate social programs in local communities. During the latter half of 2014, the operations in Chile collected more than 7,000 kg of fishing nets for recycling and trained local workers to take on the roles of cleaning and managing the net collection.

Kevin Ahearn and Ben Kneppers of Bureo (center) with Orlando and Ariel of Concepcion, Chile, in front of the results from a net collection session.

In an aim to adopt a fair trade model, we are now working through an agreement with the fishing communities that provide incentives to return nets. This agreement has been signed by five fishing syndicates to date, committing them to proper disposal of fishing gear, in return for funds (100%) to support programs or resources that benefit the local community. To continue scaling up the efforts in Chile and abroad, we are currently promoting our boards and working hard on developing new innovative products.

In addition to our program in Chile, in November 2014 we were invited to attend the first meeting of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) in Ljubljana, Slovenia. World Animal Protection founded GGGI to form the first united effort of government, industry, NGOs and IGOs to create cleaner, safer oceans by creating solutions to the growing threat of ghost fishing gear (lost or abandoned fishing gear threatening the ocean environment). Supported by the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) global partnership on marine litter, the GGGI’s first roundtable brought together more than 40 global attendees for a 3-day intensive workshop.

Bureo’s Minnow skateboard 

We were thankful to be able to connect with the various delegates from around the world, spanning from the Olive Ridley Project in the Maldives to the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) Net Works project. It was a great platform for us to share our experiences in Chile and learn about the fishing practices and conservation work happening on a global scale, including existing recycling programs implemented by the Net Works and Aquafil teams.

Focused around team-based work sessions, the conference concluded with presentations from small teams that relayed our insights into next steps and prospective solutions for ghost gear in our oceans. It was inspiring to see all the progress made during the roundtable, with solutions focused around organized port side collection points, incentives to the fisherman, gear tracking through identification tags, recyclable materials in closed-loop system, stricter regulations and educational programs for the fisherman. We left GGGI confident that there is a tremendous group of individuals committed to making a difference for our oceans, and working together to ensure sustainable solutions for this global issue!

To find out more and stay up to date on our movements at Bureo, follow our journey on social media and through our website.

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