I may or may not have mentioned that there’s a little problem in our oceans called ghost nets before (hint: I absolutely did mention it). But for those of you who don’t know, according to World Animal Protection International, an estimated 640,000 metric tons of fishing gear — including nets, lines and traps — are left in our oceans every year. Some of the gear is lost accidentally, but more often it is abandoned at sea deliberately, as facilities to collect the nets are rare, and usually expensive. Thus, it is cheaper and easier for fisherman to just throw them overboard.
This “ghost gear,” as it is called, is so prevalent now that it accounts for approximately 10% of the plastic pollution in our oceans. Not only that, but it also takes a long time to break down — about 600 years to be exact.
And as these ghost nets are breaking down, they continue to “ghost fish,” trapping and killing sea life. They entangle fish, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, sharks, crocodiles, seabirds and crabs, among other things. And per their design, they then restrict movement and can cause starvation, suffocation, laceration and infection.
According to an analysis by World Animal Protection, this discarded fishing gear is so widespread in our oceans that it is killing at least 136,000 seals, sea lions and whales each year. On the west coast of the U.S., the National Marine Fisheries reported that from 2000 to 2012, there was an average of 11 entangled whales per year according to a 2015 report from The Guardian. And in Washington State alone, 870 nets that contained 32,000 marine animals were recovered between the years of 2002 and 2010. The nets also can drag across the ocean floor and destroy habitats like coral reefs according to NOAA.
And if the environmental devastation weren’t enough, this ghost gear is actually causing problems for the fishermen themselves. The SeaDoc Society has estimated that just one a abandoned net could kill almost $20,000 worth of Dungeness crab over 10 years, and some estimate that over 90% of species caught in these ghost nets are of commercial value — all of which can contribute to a significant loss of revenue for fishermen.
The problem is so alarming that yesterday, the United Nations met to talk about it at the UN Ocean Conference in New York and World Animal Protection has developed the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) to tackle the issue (bad fishing pun intended). The goal is to drive economically viable solutions to reduce ghost gear globally, help clear the oceans of it and protect marine life.
But in the meantime, because we all know how fast government works, Woodlike Ocean Eco Swimwear (WDLK for short) is also doing their part. Woodlike Ocean makes super rad swimwear from ocean recovered fishing nets.
The husband and wife duo — Sonja and Mauricio Plama both shared a deep love for the ocean, exotic beaches and a healthy lifestyle (I mean, don’t we all?). Born in Germany, but spending half her life commuting to some of the world’s best beaches — Oahu’s North Shore, Bali, Australia — Sonja, a tailor and patternmaker sought out to make a suit that would fit her water-loving and athletic lifestyle. After creating high fashion collections for a renowned German textile group, Sonja took her creative vision, meticulous technical eye and love for the ocean to produce beautiful swimwear for Woodlike Ocean.
The company is committed to using regenerated ECONYL® yarn for their suits. But they are also a partner member of 1% For The Planet®. And for every piece purchased they’re making a donation to the Healthy Seas Initiative, which helps to organize divers to recover those abandoned fishing nets to turn it into new sustainable textiles.
And can we talk about the suits? The company makes both bikinis and one pieces that are simple yet stylish, and obviously functional. At first glance the designs look like a standard silhouette, but each piece has a little unexpected twist to give it some added oomph. And one of my favorite things about the line is the versatility — no problem pairing any of Woodlike’s bikini tops with any of their bottoms. And the line’s colors and patterns are expertly curated — they are on trend, but not so much that you can’t wear it next season, and they’re all super easy to mix and match with each other. But you don’t have to take my word for it, check them out yourself.