Surfers lie in the sea waiting for the perfect waves. The sun shines warm on the long beaches along the Atlantic. Behind a bright turquoise facade on one of the coastal town’s ancient fish stocks lies the Peniche Ocean Watch. Inside the doors, there is what looks like colorful cotton candy. At a large table, Mafalda, Glenn and Alex stand, arranging and cleaning fishing nets in bright colors.
Surfing Paradise: Peniche in Portugal is a mixture of an old fishing village and modern tourism. The people behind Peniche Ocean Watch are trying to make a difference to both the ocean and coastal communities. Photo: Santiago Vergara / TV 2
Furniture manufacturers who print with us in Sculptur in Sweden think it’s fun to use the original colors, says Glenn Matsingh, entrepreneur and biologist. A tall Swede who moved with his family to the town of Peniche, north of Lisbon.
Peniche is a mixture of an old fishing village and modern tourism, known as a surfer’s paradise.
Here, a group of inventive Portuguese, Norwegian and Swedes have created the Peniche Ocean Watch, under the motto “a sea of possibilities.” The goal is to develop innovative solutions for sea and coastal communities. With a focus on technology and the circular economy. An example is the collection of used fishing nets for recycling.
– It is important to show that it is possible to do something with plastic garbage. The Portuguese Mafalda de Freitas says that everything is not hopeless.
The marine biologist grew up partly in the UK and Sweden, but has now moved to Peniche.
The United Nations summit is taking place in Lisbon this week. From the top comes a bleak prognosis for our oceans. Although the ocean looks beautiful on the surface, there are major problems at the bottom of the ocean. And it’s nowhere near as well known as climate change.
– We don’t see what’s under the surface. We have been polluting the sea for a long time. Mafalda says the situation now we can’t see with the human eye.
Fast fingers pick up plastic threads that are thicker than nylon fishing nets.
The goal is to turn old fishing nets into valuables, Glenn explains.
Some fishing nets are left in the fishing fields scattered in the sea. Or they end up in a landfill. The used nets are now being collected in cooperation with the fishermen. They are sorted, cleaned and washed. Later, the plastic is milled and then a product, granules, desired by the industry are made.
We have tried a lot of 3D printing on a large scale. Then we make the furniture. By collecting the nets here, and knowing which fishermen used the nets, we can follow the story down to the customers.
Those who buy design furniture, for example, can read about the fisherman and the Peniche via a QR code. The digital story lies as a layer on plastic when it is sold to the industry.
Plastic is of good quality and attractive, for example, for the manufacture of furniture. It also means that had it been at sea, it would not have been dismantled for perhaps several hundred years.
Glenn has been working with waste for several years, and how to make use of it. From everything from coffee to truck bumpers.
It’s easy to get fascinated by fishing nets. It is annoying to know that they are lying at the bottom of the sea and fishing for themselves. This engages many. I encountered so much junk at sea during my expedition around Svalbard, which prompted me to take a closer look at this one.
Today, a large 3D printer prints in Sweden, including furniture designed from fishing nets. The goal is to have such a machine locally as well. In addition to placing some furnishings such as benches in the city skyline. The idea is to give something back to the local community, be it jobs, better working conditions, or outdoor furniture.
He decided to take the Benish family to live near the sea. Especially after the pandemic, many people are leaving the big cities and moving to places like Peniche. Life here is quieter than in Lisbon, Oslo or Stockholm, and it also has other advantages:
– To browse, you have to do it here. And drink a lot of wine. It’s part of the job, he laughs.
Drones from Norway
Another project, supported by Norwegian EEA funds, is the use of drones. Norwegian company Birdview is developing a drone that can tell where fish are. Drones can also be used to find plastic in the sea.
Provides a more sustainable way to fish. The drones are equipped with echo devices that are lowered into the water. They can spot everything from turtles and fish streams to plastic litter, says Mafalda.
Luis Santana is one of the fishermen who collaborates with the Peniche Ocean Watch, whether using fishing nets or drones. Drones can make the work day shorter, by not having to go out and look for fish. Within twenty minutes, the drone is doing the job. Fishermen also save fuel.
– This is very future-oriented and we can take advantage of it. This means we can be more efficient. Lewis says the drone can move over a large area using very little energy.
For fishermen, fuel has become 400 percent more expensive. Often they wind up after the fish, without finding them. Within twenty minutes, the drone can do the same job.
Alexandre Fortunato Cruz of Peniche works, among other things, with the training of young fishermen. Preferably from countries some distance from Europe, such as Indonesia. Employment in the fishing profession is difficult.
Old Hunters are about to retire. Young people do not want to become fishermen because of the low wages. They work for six months and after that they have no work because of the quota system.
The “Pelodrone” project combines sustainability, sea harvesting and improving the financial resources of fishermen.
Hope to work
More than 5,000 politicians, businessmen and organizations are discussing policy and technology solutions to save the oceans this week. Mafalda is tired of talking and so little work.
– I hope this conference will be different. Those tangible changes will come out of it.
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