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Coastal zone of County Cork

Sea Fest Cork 2019
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Our first visit to Cork as part of MARplas was to attended SeaFest in June 2019.  As a large scale event, Sea Fest was an important piece of our outreach programme in connecting with communities and individuals that might be interested in the project, sharing the work from the community workshops and some of the early stage development on the technical side, our filament made from polyethelene pellets and prints from upcycled nets using nylon filament from Fishy Filaments. . At this point we had completed a number of community innovation sessions as well as the first of our TY challenge  weeks.

We were in the education tent, which gave access to a diverse range of people

visiting our stand - parents with young children, educators, researchers and campaigners, enabling us to develop connections for different aspects of the project.  We also had lively discussions with interesting thoughts on solutions as well as highlighting how little facutal information is known about the issue of marine plastic waste and net production in Ireland. 


The outreach and engagement activities in the project help to inform the team's thinking beyond the initial problem and consider previously overlooked opportunities for systemic change.

TY Design Challenge week

Schull Community College was proposed as one of two additional TY Challenges, proposed for MARPlas, the other in Galway. Unfortunately, before we could implement them, Covid-19 meant almost 2 years before we could deliver the project, with rescheduling necessary on two occasions. 

Finally, in Oct 2021 we were able to undertake the sprint under the easing restrictions, post vaccinations and using masks. We were hosted by the fantastic Schull Sailing Centre home of the Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education centre. This relationship has continued after the project with students fixing kayaks and upcycling them into tables and chairs, when they are beyond recycling - see legacy.  

Over the course of the week the young people learn and utilise the Design Thinking process with an additional focus on ecological design, using practical activities that are scaffolded age-appropriately. The process gives learners an opportunity to gain skills and competencies developing a growth mindset and that are transferable. Design Sprint 5 day challenge overview 

In every sprint the young people, sometimes as teams or individuals create a minimum viable product using marine plastic off-cuts and presented it to members of the MARplas design team. 

In Schull we had 4 business prototypes all using upcycled fishing net 

  • Madra Mara - Dog accessories (rope baskets, spliced leads) and workshops 

  • Metamorph - modular furniture using nets and other marine waste as structures

  • E-Kable - Circular economic subscription based cable protectors and  replacement service

  • Brighter Jellie - Designer lights using sea glass, netting and other upcycled marine waste (fishing net peripherals) workshops and conservation pledge / donation.

Castletownbere Swan Net Gundry
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We had visited Swan Net Gundry in Castletownbere as part of our intitial assessment of the system and to understand the full production process.


We had a number of key questions:

  • Where and how were nets made, what was the full production cycle

  • What materials were used and how were they sourced 

  • How much waste was there and how was it currently managed

  • How did the netmakers understand the problem of net waste and their ideas for solutions

  • What obstacles did they see to solving the problem

As looking at the full system enabled the team to understand were there were opportunities to apply their expertise to intervene and affect change. Also, by speaking to net makers, those actively fishing (across all scales) and fishing communities we began to develop a picture of the full ecosystem; local and global. 

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