Deployed in their thousands and killing non-target species in their millions, fish aggregating devices (FADs) are a scourge to our oceans, devastating marine life to supply companies like Thai Union.
Made up of nets, metal and bamboo frames, buoys and ribbon, these marine snares also have beacons which tell their owners where they are and often the amount of sea life that has gathered beneath them. This bundle of electronics is made up of rechargeable batteries, solar panels, LED lights and circuitry.
But it’s not just the damage they do at sea – this gear often ends up either in huge trash heaps on land, or washed up on reefs. So, while the crew of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza have been recovering and dismantling every one that we find in the Indian Ocean, our enterprising on-board whizzkids have been using some nifty tricks to recycle – or upcycle – the components to provide shade from the elements as well as rugged, solar-powered power supplies and lamps.
The shade part is easy: just prop the FADs up on stilts and – ‘hey presto’ – there’s your shelter from sun, wind and rain.
But the power supplies and lamps are the clever part. So with these things potentially washing up somewhere near you, we’ve made a walk-through guide on instructables.com so you too can learn how to convert some of the most commonly-found types of FAD beacon into lamps that can provide light for an entire night, or charge cell phones and laptops using the power of the sun.
We’ve put the other parts of the FADs to good use too: the buoys will go to coastal communities for artisanal fishing.
Also, via a local NGO, we’re passing on the solar panels to village tinkerers to find their own creative uses for the them.
Tom Lowe is Multimedia Editor for the Communications Hub at Greenpeace International, aboard the Esperanza.