Why this London, Ont., teenager spends her free time turning ghost fishing nets into baskets
Natalie McIntosh, 15, started non-profit Nautical Waters as a class project a year ago
Natalie McIntosh of London, Ont., got thinking about lost or discarded fishing nets, also called ghost nets, while the 15-year-old was working on an assignment for her science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) class.
"They have huge effects on our environment. They can kill coral reefs and many animals," said the Grade 10 student at Saunders Secondary School. "It's something like 46 per cent of the Pacific garbage patch is ghost gear.
"I told my mom that I wanted to do something. I guess that's how you could say Nautical Waters started."
With her family's help, McIntosh upcycles old fishing gear donated by a handful of other charities, including Emerald Sea Protection Society in British Columbia and Coastal Action in Nova Scotia.
"We've made bracelets, rope art, mats, bowls, baskets, and we've made necklaces which also use beach glass in them," she said. It's all sold on the non-profit's Etsy page.
Proceeds go back to the charities retrieving the discarded fishing gear, with a small portion reserved for Nautical Waters's expenses.
McIntosh hopes to continue her passion for ocean life, with plans to study marine biology in university.