- WSL / Damien Poullenot

Cover photo shows WSL surfers Kanoa Igarashi, Francisca 'Kika' Veselko, Leonardo Fioravanti, and Mafalda Lopes volunteering at the WSL One Ocean activation.

Beneath the surface of our magnificent ocean, there is an urgent challenge that calls for our attention from across the globe: plastic pollution. Yet, hope shines bright as communities come together to address one of its most significant sources-ghost nets and Abandoned, Lost, or Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG). These elements, while posing a threat to marine biodiversity, have sparked a global movement towards ocean conservation. Efforts to remove these hazards are not only revitalizing marine life and ecosystems but also strengthening the resilience of ecosystems and the communities that rely on the ocean's bounty. The fight against ocean plastic is a testament to our collective commitment to protecting and preserving our planet.

Peniche, Portugal, a coastal town renowned for its rich marine life and world-class waves, is also home to the second largest active fishing port in Portugal. Playing a pivotal role in the commercial fishing industry, the problem of discarded nets is particularly acute here. Every year, these discarded or damaged nets pose a critical environmental hazard and contributes significantly to CO2 emissions as these nets are sent to landfills or even worse - incinerated, leading to 2.9 kg of CO2 emissions for every kg of nets burned.

WSLOO Portugal 24 Recovered fishing nets displayed at the entrance of Peniche Ocean Watch's warehouse. - WSL / Damien Poullenot WSLOO Portugal 24 A closer look at the fishing nets recovered by Peniche Ocean Watch. - WSL / Damien Poullenot

Recognizing these challenges, Peniche Ocean Watch has embarked on a mission to combat ocean plastic pollution through developing a blue circular economy model. Through innovation, community engagement, circular economy principles and digital technologies, they are transforming ocean waste into new, valuable resources and fostering sustainable practices among local industries and communities. At the heart of this mission is Circular Ocean, a flagship project designed to transform this problem into an opportunity.

Circular Ocean's approach is fool proof: upcycling discarded fishing nets into PENYLON™, a sustainable secondary raw material to replace virgin plastic in product manufacturing. By working closely with the local port authority, Doca Pesca, and the coastal fishermen, Circular Ocean intercepts these nets before they reach landfills and incineration sites, or worse, are lost at sea to become ghost nets. This initiative not only prevents further harm to our marine environments but also introduces a sustainable alternative that reduces CO2 emissions by 92% when manufacturing with PENYLON™ compared to using virgin plastic.

WSLOO Portugal 24 Fishing nets being shredded in preparation for recycling into PENYLON™. - WSL / Damien Poullenot WSLOO Portugal 24 A closer look at PENYLON™ made from recycled nets and used to sustainably manufacture products. - WSL / Damien Poullenot
WSLOO Portugal 24 Peniche Ocean Watch Product Designer, Karoline Teigland, and WSL Commentator, Kaipo Guerrero, lounging on Ekbacken Studios furniture made from recycled fishing nets! - WSL / Damien Poullenot

The process of transforming these nets into PENYLON™ is a testament to the power of community, collaboration, and innovation. From the collection of nets directly from the fishermen and fostering informal ocean literacy activities to the sorting, washing, and shredding of the nets at a local warehouse, every step is infused with a commitment to the environment and to social sustainability. This endeavor is further enriched by the collaboration with CERCI, a social rehabilitation center, where individuals are engaged in the separation and preparation of the nets, fostering social inclusion and community empowerment.

Yet, Peniche Ocean Watch does not stop there. Through its blue circular economy model, Peniche Ocean Watch has a bigger vision - to enable local communities to participate and drive the digital transformation of manufacturing from the linear economy model to the circular economy model. With digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and 3D printing, local communities can turn local waste streams, such as fishing nets or other plastics, into products for their own local market. These products can be made in smaller quantities and on demand, and once they reach their end of life in the local market, they can be brought back for further recycling and remanufacturing into new products once again for the local market. Peniche Ocean Watch is piloting this model through developing its PENYLON™ material to make smaller items such as surf combs and fins with desktop 3D printers and even larger items such as surfboards and furniture with large-scale additive manufacturing. Peniche Ocean Watch's goal is to create a network of microfactories transforming local waste streams into local products in coastal communities across the globe to not only combat plastic pollution but also to create new jobs and improve community resilience.

WSLOO Portugal 24 Bird's-eye view of the action! Our volunteers hard at work preparing recovered fishing nets for recycling. - WSL / Damien Poullenot WSLOO Portugal 24 From left to right, WSL surfers Francisca 'Kika' Veselko and Mafalda Lopes preparing fishing nets to be recycled. - WSL / Damien Poullenot

This year, as the World Surf League's competition arrives in Peniche, it brings the excitement of top-tier surfing and a wave of positive environmental impact. WSL One Ocean joined forces with Peniche Ocean Watch and SHISEIDO BLUE PROJECT for a day of action and learning at Peniche Ocean Watch's warehouse. WSL One Ocean and Peniche Ocean Watch even collaborated on creating a special surf wax comb from the recycled nets just for that day! This hands-on involvement will shed light on the challenge of fishing net pollution in the ocean and demonstrate how local solutions can have a global impact. With every kilogram of nets cleaned, 2.9kg of CO2 emissions will be saved, underscoring the environmental benefits of this initiative! Engaging 60 volunteers, including 25 local youths, this activity aims to inspire and educate, cultivating a deeper appreciation for our ocean and a community that is informed, passionate, and proactive about environmental sustainability. This activity also highlights a shared commitment by Peniche Ocean Watch, SHISEIDO, and WSL to protecting our planet's precious marine environments while engaging local communities in meaningful conservation efforts. A donation from WSL PURE will help these efforts continue on throughout the year.

As we face the challenges of marine conservation, initiatives like Peniche Ocean Watch's project Circular Ocean offer a blueprint for action, marrying the principles of the blue circular economy with grassroots engagement. It's a reminder that each of us has a role to play in safeguarding our planet's ocean, ensuring it remains vibrant and life-supporting for generations to come.

Join us in Peniche as we work together to create a sustainable future, one net at a time. For more information on how to get involved and support this initiative, visit www.penicheoceanwatch.com and http://www.circularocean.pt

WSLOO Portugal 24 A massive thank you to our incredible volunteers for a beautiful and impactful morning! - WSL / Damien Poullenot

As surfers, the ocean is our playground and our stadium. Getting involved in protecting and conserving the ocean is critical for us today and for future generations. Show us what you are doing by posting on social media with the hashtag #WSLOneOcean and tagging @wsl and @wsloneocean in your posts. You can learn more and get involved at WSLOneOcean.org.

WSL One Ocean is a global initiative supported by SHISEIDO and YETI.

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