Net-Works™ – Increasing Community-Based Recycling of Ghost Fishing Nets in Central Philippines


Net-Works™ is an innovative program that is the product of an unlikely partnership between conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and carpet-manufacturer Interface, with support from the American Chemistry Council (ACC). Net-Works™ has successfully developed a community-based supply chain for ghost fishing nets in three hubs in the central Philippines, with 26 associated community groups. This supply chain empowers local communities to take control of this destructive waste and clean up their environment whilst also providing the opportunity for important additional income and strengthening marine conservation activities. Since the collection system was first piloted in one community in 2012 it has expanded to remove 100,000 kg of ghost fishing nets from the marine environment – the equivalent of 94,000km of fishing net – directly benefiting over 400 families and creating environmental benefits for over 55,000 people. The project will establish new collection sites for Net-Works™ around existing sites in western Visayas and scope Net-Works™ expansion opportunities in Masbate Province. The current project will, (1) Add new sites to the emerging hub in Panay, Central Philippines to establish a sustainable business model for recycled nylon fishing nets in the area, increasing the amount of nylon nets entering the supply chain; (2) Leverage the Net-Works™ presence in central Panay to catalyze marine conservation initiatives (related to MPAs and mangroves) and increase the number of people with access to locally appropriate financial services; (3) Scope new sites in Masbate Island and assess the viability of setting up the fourth Net-Works™ hub in the area; (4) Assess the viability and develop a concept model for implementing the “trash for health” scheme in an existing Net-Works™ site in the Philippines; and (5) 5. Plan and implement strategies to diversify the business model by integrating other income centers (i.e. seaweeds and mangrove/beach forests nurseries) that enhance the economic viability of net recycling as a social enterprise.

What Is Ghost Fishing?

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association, “Ghost Fishing” is the term used to describe what happens when derelict fishing gear, sometimes referred to as “ghost gear,” continues to fish and trap animals, entangle and potentially kill marine life, smother habitat, and act as a hazard to navigation. Derelict fishing gear, such as nets or traps and pots, is one of the main types of debris impacting the marine environment today.1

1NOAA. What Is Ghost Fishing? National Ocean Service,, 10/10/17.