Old fishing nets being hauled away for recycling                Credit: Berett Wilber/KUCB


More coastal towns in Alaska plan to give new life to old fishing gear by having it recycled into new plastic products.  The Net Your Problem program is expanding this summer to the Panhandle.

“The location is going to be Southeast Alaska, primarily the communities of Juneau, Haines, Petersburg and perhaps Sitka.   I identified a recycler in British Columbia that is accepting gillnets so we will be working primarily with gillnets and seines in those communities and sending the nets to BC.”

Nicole Baker is the push behind the program.

She jump started recycling for trawl nets, crab and halibut line and other gear two years ago in Dutch Harbor and Kodiak quickly followed. So far, 300,000 pounds of gear has been shipped to Plastix in Europe where it’s melted down and made into plastic pellets that are reused in thousands of ways.

Baker, who is based in Seattle, says she’s also hearing from other Alaska towns, including Homer.

“My goal is to expand slowly but surely and add one new location every year while still continuing support for recycling efforts at the previous locations.”

She encourages anyone who has fishing gear pile ups to get in touch.

“If you are dealing with this issue please feel free to reach out to me because I am happy to try to establish the logistics for a program in your community. Obviously, I can’t know the status of every community in Alaska so I am relying on people to contact me if they would like help in this area.”