Fishing for Nets, Solving Problems: How Net Your Problem is Recycling Fishing Nets from Coast to Coast

April 28th, 2022
Reading time: 3 minutes

The Brightmark editorial team focuses on providing insightful and valuable information to impact the planet positively and create a world without waste. Learn more about our methodology here.

An exclusive interview with Sara Aubrey, Net Your Problem’s Business and Program Development Manager.



Please provide background on your professional experience and role at Net Your Problem.

I was trained as a conservation biologist and natural resource manager, emphasizing marine science and coastal ecosystems. For a long time, I worked in remote places and on islands to study the natural ecosystem and learn more about maintaining the integrity of our natural resources. Through graduate school, I began to focus more on management plans and balancing the interests of multiple stakeholders regarding environmental access, resource use, and what’s best for the community at large in the long term. With Net Your Problem, my job is to identify and engage members of the coastal community to develop and fund programs that collect and process end-of-life fishing gear for recycling. This means communicating that this gear is a resource that can go on to become other products. Hence, plastic continues its useful life and reduces the need for the input of resources as raw materials and energy in the manufacturing process.


How did you become affiliated with Net Your Problem?

After graduate school, I came to Puerto Rico and started a business there. I became acquainted with the founder of Net Your Problem, Nicole Baker, through a mutual friend. Many years later, I had returned home to California, and Nicole asked me if I wanted to lead a program phasing out a specific net type in the swordfish fishery. These nets had to be destroyed, and Net Your Problem was one of the official ‘Net Destruction Entities.’ We sent this material to be recycled with our recycling partners. I fell in love with Net Your Problem’s solution-oriented mindset and the practical application of caring for the environment through responsible waste management.


What is one of your favorite parts of working with an organization like Net Your Problem?

The diversity of the stakeholders we engage in and the places where our services are needed always keeps things interesting and exciting. We are all connected by the oceans, and it brings many different people together. 


What is one main takeaway you’d want people to learn about Net Your Problem?

We are working to help turn waste into resources, strengthen the circular economy, and make the fishing industry even more sustainable. We focus on solutions and bringing people together to achieve them.


Do you have any advice for those looking to make a positive environmental impact in their daily lives?

The things you are most passionate about and what you are the most interested in will be the easiest things you can change to lessen your impact and help regenerate the environment. Find what is important to you, and know that what you do is essential. Your choices make a difference, so focus on the positives and what you can do.

Man posing for photo
Sam Mesquita
Director of Content

Sam is a passionate marketer who loves writing, design, and content creation—spending his career building brands with intentional, values-based marketing. His experience ranges from marketing consumer brands like lululemon and Pepsi to B2B marketing executive recruitment firms and universities. He worked for an executive recruitment firm and Pepperdine University’s Graziadio Business School before joining Brightmark in 2021.

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