Killers to

Repurposing Abandoned Fishing Nets

Joshua Restauro, 4ocean Story Editor

"Every year, over 300,00 dolphins, whales, and porpoises get killed by ghost nets and plastic pollution."

From the free-roaming dolphins to the humble fishermen ashore, the life-giving waters around the world nurture us with the same generosity. But as our population and needs grow, we encroach further into the sea, beyond our boundary.

Human activities such as tourism and overfishing increasingly impact the health and safety of marine life. Such is the case of the deceptively harmless fishing net and a young bottlenose dolphin that the 4ocean team found in the open waters of East Java.

As our Ocean Team conducted a routine cleanup, they saw a dolphin about 3 and a half feet in size struggling on the water's surface. They approached and discovered that the dolphin's snout was entangled in an abandoned fishing net.

Unable to swim freely, a cookie-cutter shark took the opportunity to tear away at its flesh. Apart from that, there were cuts and wounds all over the dolphin's body. One of its fins was also wrapped in the net and would've been sheared off if not for the team's effort to rescue the distressed animal.

Every year, over 300,00 dolphins, whales, and porpoises get killed by ghost nets and plastic pollution. Drifting fishing gear left in the ocean creates a labyrinth that drowns and injures marine mammals. This disturbance reportedly affects the behavior and reproduction of cetaceans, causing long-term negative impacts on their population's survival.

As bycatch continues to endanger the lives of sea animals in East Java, 4ocean's Bali team came up with a brilliant idea to repurpose ghost nets into a trash collector. Our team retrieved discarded fishing nets, repaired them, and added buoys so they could install them in the water.

The repurposed buoys extend in a line across rivers, stopping floating plastic debris on its way to the ocean. 


The following day, heaps of floating plastic were collected by the net!


The conservation efforts of 4ocean transformed these ghost nets from killers to friends, saving potentially thousands of marine animals from death by entanglement.

The 4ocean crew will continue to re-engineer ghost nets as an efficient tool for collecting trash from rivers while saving up on resources. Now, our team in Bali starts their day by efficiently gathering plastic and other debris from the ghost nets, leaving them more time to refocus their efforts on new solutions to combat the ocean plastic crisis.

This simple and innovative solution is a hopeful reminder that it’s never too late to care for our oceans and rivers. The ghost net trash collector can be easily reproduced and set up by communities that suffer from plastic pollution. As we campaign for awareness and action, our goal is to show that each of us can save our environment, and it doesn’t have to be complicated to do so.


To celebrate our Java crew's resourcefulness and hard work in cleaning our oceans and rivers, 4ocean's artisans from Bali designed our Ghost Net Bracelet collection. The materials are made from... you guessed it - ghost nets that were collected from the ocean!

The Ghost Net Bracelet inspires those who believe in an unshackled ocean where giant whales and tiny fish can swim freely and safely in their home.

Shop the Ghost Net Bracelet

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We’re always on the lookout for incredible stories from our community! Pitch yours to our team at stories@4ocean.com

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