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Net recycling expands across Bristol Bay

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Brian Venua
/
KDLG
Nicole Baker (left) and Desi Bond (right) show items made from recycled nets.

Net Your Problem is a Seattle-based company focused on helping coastal communities recycle used fishing nets. The company’s owner and founder, Nicole Baker, said they want to reduce the amount of garbage in landfills.

"There are a lot of communities that we work with in Alaska, like in the Aleutian Islands, that the landfills are running out of space," she said. "Because they're on an island they have limited space for garbage. So, anything that we can do to keep that material out of the landfill and give it a second life is really valuable to a lot of different people."

Net collection is handled locally. In Dillingham, it’s organized by Desi Bond, the environmental coordinator for the Curyung Tribal Council.

“The Curyung Tribal Council has been working for years to try to keep the old fishing web out of the landfill," she said. "They had about 40 boxes of old web that was stored and we have it up by the tribal office now.”

Bond said all fisherfolk need to do is strip nets from lead and cork lines, clean debris like moss, and remove twine used to repair the mesh before it was retired.

"That's a big factor," she said. "We love what we're doing, but we have a lot that we're cleaning right now. So, if we can get a community effort, that will be very helpful for us.

Baker said her team is working on programs on the east side as well.

"We started a new collection program in Naknek and King Salmon, so that’s where we’re going to be at the end of the season starting on the 21st of July collecting web over there," she said. "Then we’re working with two of the processors, AGS and OBI in Egegik to bring their web up to Naknek at the end of the season."

Baker’s company then ships the mesh to various recycling centers to be turned into small plastic beads, which can then be molded into other items like sunglasses or dock cleats.

“We're kind of like the garbage truck going around to these different communities, collecting the materials, and then disposing of it in a way that is preferable to leaving it in the landfill or leaving it in your front yard," she said.

In Dillingham, nets can be brought to the harbormaster’s office, the PAF Boatyard office, or at the Curyung Tribal Council. In Naknek, the collection center is across from the city dock in the AML Boatyard. In Egegik, nets can be collected at the Alaska General Seafoods or OBI plants.

Contact the author at Brian@kdlg.org or call (907) 842-2200

Brian Venua grew up in Dillingham and attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. He got his start in journalism at KDLG in 2020, interviewing and writing for the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report and signed on as a full-time host and reporter later that year.
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