I’ll be the first to admit that I love seafood, but the fishnets used to catch my delicious meal can mean death for more than just the unlucky tuna that (partially) ended up on my plate. It’s not just my plate that we should be concerned with, but the nearly one billion people across the world who depend on fish as their primary source of animal (protein the number reported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization). The health of the ocean is essential for people the world over, but especially in developing countries where fish provide the basis for people’s nutrition.
And I know, I know; some of you are probably screaming at the screen right now. I’ve seen the reports; the use of nets to harvest fish is evil, but the fact of the matter is that fishermen have been using nets since before the Dark Ages and they’ll continue to do so. Until someone comes up with a better way of fishing, there will be fishnets in the water. But what is equally dangerous—or maybe even more dangerous—to the world’s oceans are the fishnets that are discarded. We might not be able to get rid of fishnets, but we can greatly reduce their impact on the world.
According to the EPA, fishnets and other marine debris cause both direct and indirect harm to ocean life. Not only can wildlife—cute little turtles and pretty tropical fish included—become entangled in the nets, fishnets can also suffocate delicate coral reefs and damage the marine floor.
Indirect harm comes from the cleanup techniques—mechanical beach raking in particular—that are supposed to help with the problem of ocean debris, but ultimately these techniques cause more damage to the beach in the long run than if we just left the debris there. Beach raking destroys habitats for sea turtles, ocean-going birds and vegetation. It also contributes to the erosion of the beach line.
That’s where Bureo Skateboards comes in. When three friends came together to found Bureo—the word that means “the waves” in the native Chilean Mapuche language—they put their love of the ocean and their professions as engineers to work. They looked at the stats, weighed their options and they knew they had to do something. As the trio put it, they left their safe jobs to do something that I think is brilliant: they make skateboards out of recycled fishnets collected from Chilean fishermen.