Circular Ocean - Inspiring Communities to realise the hidden economic opportunities of discarded fishing nets and ropes in the Northern Periphery & Arctic region  Competition

Be part of the solution

It is estimated that up to 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the sea each year, causing serious damage to our ocean environment and marine ecosystems. 

Experts believe that lost and discarded fishing-related gear is the most treacherous form of marine plastic, persisting in the marine environment for hundreds of years, continuing to catch fish and causing entanglement of marine wildlife, including birds and mammals. This is an important issue in the Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) region, where many remote communities are subject to the consequences of waste marine plastics that are already damaging local fishing industries, tourism and other ocean related businesses. There are many terms to describe fishing nets that are discarded into the ocean and/or end up in landfill including: marine litter; abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG); ‘ghost nets’; and ‘ghost gear’. The Circular Ocean project uses the term FNRCs to describe discarded, used and/or waste fishing nets, ropes and components.

The Circular Ocean Innovation Competition 2018 will help address this problem, by seeking the submission of new product concepts that utilise plastics from discarded and used fishing nets, ropes and components (FNRCs). The Competition will also look to attract new ideas that enable a circular value chain related to FNRCs through innovative material processing, technology, local machinery, systems, business models – or completely different solutions that enable the collection, reusing and recycling of discarded and used FNRCs. The Competition aims to stimulate product and process solutions to the existing problem of waste FNRCs but is not aimed to develop new policy solutions to prevent the problem. The Circular Ocean Innovation Competition is aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 9 “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure”, Goal 12 on “Responsible Consumption and Production” and Goal 14 “Life Below Water.” The Competition is proudly supported by Global Ghost Gear Initiative and Zero Waste Scotland.

The goal of Circular Ocean Innovation Competition 2018 is to engage global creative and technical communities to provide radical, inspiring and fresh ideas and solutions related to the re-use and recycling of discarded and used plastics from FNRCs in the NPA region. The Competition aims to act as a catalyst that can motivate and empower remote communities to develop sustainable and green business opportunities utlising waste FNRCs that will generate and retain income and jobs within local regions.
WINNERS ANNOUNCEDclick here for details

The Challenges

The Circular Ocean Innovation Competition 2018 is open to submissions from individuals and/or multi-disciplinary teams of entrepreneurs, inventors, designers and students worldwide. Entrants are invited to submit ideas and solutions to one or more of 15 Challenges that have been developed in consultation with experts from the NPA region. These Challenges are sub-divided into 4 categories:

Solutions that create new markets for used fishing nets, ropes & components (FNRCS)

Challenge #1:Products/Market Applications

To develop applications for product derived from waste FNRC’s for the following sectors.

  • Building
  • Clothing
  • Tourism
  • Leisure
  • Fashion
  • Other

Challenge #2:Surfers

To develop a series of products from waste FNRC’s aimed specifically

Challenge #3: Substitution

To develop plastic products that substitute existing plastic products used in marine and fishing industrial in port and coastal areas

Solutions that transform specific FNRC materials

Challenge #4: Polyethylene

To develop specific product/market concepts from FNRCs derived from polyethylene.

Challenge #5: Polypropylene

To develop specific product/market concepts from FNRCs derived from polypropylene.

Challenge #6: Components

To develop new uses for re-used FNRC components including buoys.

Challenge #7: Equipment

To develop solutions related to specific waste FNRCs elements e.g. lobster pots, crab creel, crayfish traps, etc…

Solutions that enable the FNRC re-use and recycling

Challenge #8: Inspection

To develop new inspection technologies to identify polymers in waste FNRCs.

Challenge #9: Cutting

To develop a mechanism to bundle-up FNRCs to enable more effective separation and cutting of waste FNRCs.

Challenge #10: Washing

To develop new processes to separate anti-foulant chemical compounds from aquaculture FNRCs.

Challenge #11: Shredding

To develop mobile units to shred waste polymer FNRCs.

Solutions driven by smart machinery and technical innovations

Challenge #12: 3D Printing

To develop a series of 3D printed products using filaments from waste FNRCs.

Challenge #13: Local Machines

To develop a low-cost machine that use waste polymer FNRCs as feedstock to produce products using injection moulding or other production methods

Challenge #14: Smart

To develop FNRCs that are ‘designed to disassemble’ under specific conditions.

Challenge #15: Anti-foulants

To develop new anti-foulant processes for aquaculture FNRCs that do not use of chemical compounds

How to enter

To enter the Circular Ocean Innovation Competition 2018, participants should submit an entry in one or more of the four Categories and address one or more of the specific Challenges that have been formulated by experts on used or discarded FNRCs. A maximum of two entries can be made by specific individuals and/or teams.

Entries need to be filled out using the official entry form and should be emailed to the Circular Ocean Innovation Competition 2018 Secretariat c/o

Entry Deadline: 17.00 GMT on the 1st June 2018.

WINNERS ANNOUNCEDclick here for details

In addition to the entry form participants can submit one PDF file with visual content and/or links to a short video of no more than 3 minutes on YouTube or Vimeo. The email and two files combined should not exceed 10 MB in size. A maximum of two separate entries can be submitted by specific individuals or teams.

Entry Form

For questions on the Circular Ocean Innovation Competition 2018 please contact:

Circular Ocean Innovation 2018 Competition,
Secretariat, C/O Ros Carruthers,
The Centre for Sustainable Design ®,
University for the Creative Arts,
Falkner Road, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7DS, UK

Telephone: 00 44 1252 892772

Competition Timeline

  • Deadline for applications 1st June 2018
  • Announcing winners 30th June 2018
  • Winning entries publicised on the Circular Ocean website 30th June 2018
  • Award ceremony: Circular Ocean Conference, Ireland Sept 2018 (TBC)

Expert Judging Panel

The Competition entries will be evaluated by an jury drawn from experts from the NPA regions and specialist networks related to FNRCs.

The Competition is supported by the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and Zero Waste Scotland.

Martin Charter

Director, The Centre for Sustainable Design ®, University for the Creative Arts (UCA), UK

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Tim Baldwin

Sector Manager – Reprocessing, Zero Waste Scotland, Scotland

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Kieron Phillips

Project Manager, Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland

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Dr. Heidi Rapp Nilsen,

Senior Researcher, Norut Northern Research Institute, Norway

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Joel Baziuk

Global Campaign Manager World Animal Protection, UK/Canada

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Sean O'Sullivan

Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office South, Cork, Ireland

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Nina O'Hanlon

Post-doc Research Assistant, ERI, North Highland College UHI, Scotland

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Vesa Tschernij

Fisheries Engineer & Project Manager, MARELITT Baltic

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Kristjan Leosson

Managing Director Department of Materials, Biotechnology & Energy, Innovation Center Iceland

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For each of the two age categories one entry will be announced as winner of the Circular Ocean Innovation Competition 2018. One award will be made to an entry from an individual and/or team that is under 25-years-of- age and a second from an individual and/or team that is 25-years- of-age or older. In addition, there will be special commendations in each of the four categories.

The two award winners and four commendations will be highlighted on the Circular Ocean website , in the project newsletter, on social media platforms and associated PR campaign.