Busan pushes for recycling of discarded fishing nets into renewable materials

By Lim Chang-won Posted : May 10, 2021, 10:18 Updated : May 10, 2021, 10:18

[Courtesy of Busan City ]

SEOUL -- As part of a national campaign to prevent marine pollution and ghost fishing, an aquatic phenomenon in which animals get caught by abandoned nylon nets, South Korea's southern port city of Busan will push for a pilot project to collect and recycle discarded fishing nets into high-quality materials that can be used for the production of sustainable eco-friendly fabrics.

Busan, the busiest port in South Korea, said it would support quality verification and production in a joint project with Netspa, a marine environment social venture, and Hyosung TNC, which produces Regen, an eco-friendly polyester fiber from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles to manufacture clothes, bags, shoes, and other products.

Hyosung TNC has obtained Ocean Bound Plastic (OBP) certification from Control Union, a Dutch agency that certifies plastics collected from the sea. Netspa has developed an algorithm to extract pure nylon from waste fishing nets by benchmarking Econyl, a polyamide yarn that was derived and regenerated from pre and post-industrial waste through a complex chemical-physical process.

"This agreement establishes the foundation for industrial growth in the marine environment," Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon said in a statement on May 10, vowing to actively promote policies for the recycling of marine waste into resources. The amount of waste fish nets generated in South Korea stands at 44,000 tons per year.

Ghost fishing by "ghost nets," abandoned or lost fishnets made of nylon, damage fish stock and vessels. Sometimes divers get caught up in ghost nets and lose their lives. Ghost nets can destroy underwater habitats such as coral reefs and benthic fauna, which are common spawning grounds for marine animals. The government has pushed for the use of biodegradable nets.
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