PROFILE — Teen turns old fishing nets into nautical art

Story by CBC Kids News • 2021-05-18 06:00

All proceeds go to wildlife charities

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Natalie McIntosh


London, Ontario



Claim to fame

An Ontario teen is making waves by turning old fishing gear into new and nautical treasures.

Since last year, Natalie McIntosh, 15, has been taking lost or discarded fishing nets and rope and transforming them into bracelets, rope art, mats, bowls, baskets and necklaces.

She’s also been donating all of the proceeds from her non-profit business, called Nautical Waters, to charity.

Colourful frayed rope in a pile

A collection of lobster rope from southwest Nova Scotia that was donated to Natalie to turn into works of art. (Image credit: nautical.waters/Instagram)

How it started

Last year, Natalie was working on an assignment for her science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) class.

As part of the assignment, she started learning about ghost nets, which are fishing nets that have been left or lost in the ocean by people who fish.

“They have huge effects on our environment. They can kill coral reefs and many animals,” said Natalie.

“It's something like 46 per cent of the Pacific garbage patch is ghost gear.”

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a huge collection of trash floating in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California.

Natalie told her mom she wanted to do something to help.

Nautical Waters

She got in touch with a handful of charities, including the Emerald Sea Protection Society in British Columbia and Coastal Action in Nova Scotia.

A bowl made from rope that looks almost like an elegant bird's nest

This ‘nautical bowl’ is made from almost 40 feet of discarded fishing rope from southwestern Nova Scotia. (Image credit: nautical.waters/Instagram)

After getting some shipments of ghost nets and rope from those organizations, Natalie, with the help of her family, started turning the discarded gear into new artworks.

“We've made bracelets, rope art, mats, bowls, baskets, and we've made necklaces, which also use beach glass in them,” she said.

Natalie created this artwork to be reminiscent of the red sand beaches in Prince Edward Island, transitioning from sandy red into wavy blue. (Image credit: nautical.waters/Instagram)

Natalie then started selling the artworks on Etsy, the crafty buying and selling website.

She donated all of her profits — minus a small chunk of change to cover supplies — to the charities that donated fishing supplies to her.

Natalie said she hopes to continue her passion for ocean life, with plans to study marine biology in university.

With files from Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC
TOP IMAGE CREDIT: nautical.waters/Instagram

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