28 Aug Turning Merauke’s Waste Nets into Useful Materials

Discarded fishing nets are a common sight in fishing villages in Merauke, one of the major commercial fishing districts in Papua Province and a gateway to the rich fishing grounds of the Arafura Sea. Often, fishermen are not aware that these waste nets, which are made of plastic mesh, can be dragged into the ocean and unintentionally trap sharks, turtles, and other threatened marine animals and add into the growing size of marine debris floating in our seas.

To address this issue, SeaNet Indonesia initiated a net recycling project in Kamahedoga Village in Merauke, The project involves community members collecting, cleaning and baling the waste nets and getting these ready for export abroad where it will be turned into carpets. Community members not only earn money for collecting and cleaning the nets, they are also trained on how to organize themselves and set up a community banking system so that they can manage the funds they earn from the project.

Ellen Junindra from the Merauke Fishery Service at Kamahedoga, one of the project participants, noted that the waste net recycling project has also made a positive impact on the hygiene and waste management of the area and hopes that this can be replicated in the district and even other areas in Indonesia. “Starting from cleaning an organic and inorganic material attached to the net, until its recycling process into a carpet product can be adopted by local governments all over Indonesia, and specifically by the local government of Merauke.”she said.

Since SeaNet started the waste net recycling project in 2017, it has already collected 10 tons of waste nets that are ready to be exported abroad. The waste net recycling project is modeled after the successful Net-Works Project of the London Zoological Society. SeaNet Indonesia, a project being implemented by the Coral Triangle Center and TierraMar, with funding from the Australian Government, supports and empowers local fishing communities in the Arafura Sea to help them sustain their marine and fisheries resources in the long-term.

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