Clean Wake: Transforming Ghost Nets Into First-Class Eyewear

Sea Waste Is An Underappreciated Resource 

Harry Dennis, the founder of eyewear brand Waterhaul, has always loved the ocean. Growing up, he spent all his spare time doing activities in and around the sea, from surfing to diving- viewing the sea as his playground. Helping to keep it clean by getting involved with clean-ups and volunteering was a natural step. When Harry went diving offshore, he was deeply troubled by what he saw underwater. Harry said, “When you are diving, you feel part of the ecosystem, and the plastic waste is impossible to ignore because it’s in front of your face. I could imagine being entangled in a fishing net. What is worse is that these nets don’t decompose for at least six hundred years.” Harry very quickly became focused on the detrimental impact that abandoned ghost nets are having on marine life.  

Founder of Waterhaul Harry Dennis. Image credit: Harry Dennis 

Every year 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets are lost or discarded in the ocean. The average commercial fishing net is approximately 1.6 kilometers long, with a mouth opening measuring 60 by 120 meters. To put this into perspective, a net is large enough to fit ten 747 Boeing jumbo jets inside it. As much as forty-six percent of plastic waste found in the ocean (by weight) is attributable to fishing gear. 

Ghost fishing gear is deadly for marine life. Not only is it harmful to endangered and protected species, but it also damages underwater habitats such as coral reefs and fauna, further contributing to marine pollution. Entangled carcasses of trapped marine life will attract more species, resulting in further potential deaths.

Even though ghost nets are one of the biggest and most harmful causes of ocean pollution, the media seems entirely focused on single-use plastic. But Harry found a creative solution. Harry decided to make specialized sunglasses constructed from the plastic found in old fishing nets which he sources from several collection locations around the British Isles, predominantly from the Cornish coast. Waterhaul is very much a physical manifestation of Harry’s passion for ocean conservation. 

A broken down ghost net found along the Cornish coast. Image credit: Harry Dennis

Partnering With The Fishing Community  

Harry saw an opportunity to work with the fishing community. Without opening up the channels of communication with fishermen, he wouldn’t have fully grasped why ghost nets were being abandoned. “Fishermen have to pay to get commercial nets taken out of the sea and put into landfill. When fishermen’s nets reach the end of their life, they are financially dissuaded from disposing of it correctly,” says Harry. 

Harry is trying to change the way that the plastic from ghost nets is perceived. “The plastic in fishing nets is very high quality and can be recycled and reused, it’s a valuable resource which is underappreciated”. Harry’s mission is to create a pathway for its removal in a bid to improve the health of our oceans. 

Scratch-Resistant Shades: Made For Adventure Seekers And Explorers

Waterhaul is the preferred shade of choice among water lovers, sailors, captains, surfers, divers, sea-titans, and skippers alike, thanks to their resilience against the elements, polarised lenses designed for bright environments and eco-friendly credentials.

Waterhaul Harlyn sunglasses constructed from discarded ghost nets. Image credit: Harry Dennis

Waterhaul eyewear is designed to be used in and around the water, they are rugged and can be put through the paces of saltwater. Being out on the ocean means being exposed to all the elements and high-force winds. Each pair has a lifetime warranty, beautifully presented in a recycled cork case with the look and touch of a luxury product. 

Waterhaul is a leader in outdoor eyewear designed for activities such as fishing, boating. Individuals that live an outdoor lifestyle require lightweight, durable eyewear. Their signature style features clean lines with thick-rimmed frames – a nod to a retro-classic style with a modern twist. Waterhaul eyewear expresses the wearer’s values and beliefs, and there is a totally unique story behind every pair. 

When deciding on a manufacturer, Italy was a natural choice. Waterhaul is manufactured in the same factories as Mau Jim and Costa Del Mar, producing exceptional optical clarity. 

A common misconception is that products that have been recycled are second-rate. But a wave of entrepreneurs such as Harry and Hannah Patten, CEO and founder of Hulya Swim, have raised the bar by focusing on producing high-quality products.

Retask The Mask

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world in unimaginable ways, and while humans might be on the road to recovery, our streets, green spaces, and oceans are under threat from a new wave of plastic pollution.

A new wave of pollution has ensued due to Covid-19, with masks littering our streets, washing up on the seabed and shorelines. Masks often contain plastics such as polypropylene which are a significant threat to marine life. In response, Harry, and his team have collaborated with the NHS at Royal Cornwall Hospital, campaigning to ‘Retask the Mask’. The campaign transforms recycled PPE made from 100% recycled PPE sourced from the NHS into thousands of litter pickers. 

Globally, we use 129 billion facemasks per month – in a straight line that’s enough to wrap around the world 550 times, with an estimated 1.5 entering the oceans in 2020. If we continue to use masks at this rate, marine life doesn’t stand a chance at surviving. 

Recycled-pocketknives-made-from-recycled-fishing-nets

Recycled pocket knives made from recycled fishing nets. Image credit: Harry Dennis.

Are you interested in sustainable products? Check out Hulya Swimwear, which is cleaning the ocean one bikini at a time. To hear about more inspirational stories, read A Clean Wake Up Call featuring Meag Schwartz, who is on a mission to pick up 1 million pieces of trash from the Great Lakes basin.

Share Your Own #CleanWake Story with @BoatTraderUSA on Instagram. Through the Boat Trader #CleanWake Instagram challenge, we are urging boaters (or anyone who spends time on or near the water) to do their part by picking up trash left in waterways or on the beach. Taking part in the challenge is easy, and it’s the perfect outdoor activity to get you out of your home. All you need is a bag and some gloves. Fill up your bag with as much trash as you can find near a waterway or beach, and if you have a boat – even better, you can cleanup straight the ocean! Take a snap your trash and share it with @BoatTraderUSA on your social feed with the hashtag #cleanwake. Don’t forget to nominate five of your friends by tagging them in your post!

Written by: Emma Coady

Emma Coady is a freelance writer and marine journalist who creates content for many household names in the boating industry, including YachtWorld, Boat Trader and boats.com. She also writes for several boat builders as well as charter and rental companies and regularly contributes to Greenline Hybrid yachts, TJB Super Yachts and Superyachts Monaco. Emma is the founder of Cloud Copy and enjoys traveling around Europe, spending as much of her spare time as possible in or on the water.

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