Fishing for Plastic: Turning Ocean Plastic Clean Up Into a Sport

I recently caught up with the Canadian and US-based environmental nonprofit group called Fishing for Plastic. The group was founded in 2018 by Bill Atherholt and Angela Burns with the mission to reduce the impact of plastic waste on oceans and beaches around the world. They are highly creative in the ways they are achieving this goal.

Fishing clubs around the world have been organizing fishing competitions for many years. The focus of these events is catching something in the ocean, bringing it back to be weighed and measured, with prizes given for the most successful team. These events are often run by highly organized and well-funded groups of people who have a love for the ocean and the sustainable bounty it can offer, if well managed.

Fishing for Plastic, in collaboration with other environmental groups, created a model for a fishing competition that changed the focus from catching fish to catching plastic. They wanted to create awareness about the growing issue of ocean plastic pollution and to build a community-empowered project that ended with a positive social impact.

The first Fishing for Plastic competition was held in May 2019 around Marsh Harbor, on Great Abaco Island in the northern Bahamas. They established some rules and a framework for the competition set a date and started to publicize the event. That’s all it took, people liked the idea of forming a team and doing something positive for the ocean and their community.

They had 75 entrants who formed 9 teams. Prize money of US$1,000 was up for grabs and the competition was strong. In the end, the teams weighed in over 4,100 lbs (1.8 tons) of ocean plastic debris.

The outcome of the day was a lot of people who felt they had achieved something positive and a lot more who had to come face to face with the reality of what was in their marine environment. Creating awareness of the issue of plastic pollution is a key part of these clean-up initiatives. When you come face to face with so much trash you have to take notice.

Fishing For Plastic also owns and operates a loop2cycle Plastic Upcycling Machine from their workshop. This machine is used to turn collected plastic waste into useful new products that can be used for years to come. Bill and Angela are firm believers that the engagement of children in this process is critical in building a high level of awareness in the next generation, as they will be running the world of tomorrow.

It seems to me that all of us who use the ocean for sport and/or food, have a responsibility to give something back at every opportunity. The sad fact is that the oceans we love so much are in serious decline and ocean plastic is causing untold environmental harm.

Do something positive with this article and the idea started by Fishing for Plastic. If you know someone who loves fishing, pass this on. You never know, your actions might be the start of another tournament that reduces ocean plastic and brings further awareness of the plastic waste crisis. 

For information about simple, low-cost machines that turn plastic waste into lifelong products, checkout our 3-in-1 plastic upcycling machine.

“We cannot change an issue of which we are unaware, but once we are aware, we cannot help but start to change”

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Adrian
Adrian
Adrian is a co-founder of loop2cycle. Following a successful career building and managing numerous businesses in the past, he is now dedicated to the reduction of plastic waste and improving the environment in remote communities.

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