Eco surfboards made from the ocean's trash

When the sun rises over the horizon in the southern Indian village of Kuthenkuly, Jesuraja and his fellow fishermen prepare to set off for a new day at sea.

TAMIL NADU, INDIA (REUTERS) - In this southern Indian village, these abandoned fishing nets are the catch of the day. Because this piece of trash usually harmful to marine life, can get a new life recycled into a surfboard.

This is all part of a project by a company called DSM.

"What we do is, actually we are taking out the fishing nets which are out of use, bringing them out from the ocean, cleaning it up and granulating it," said operations director of DSM Engineering Plastic in Pune, Uday Shetty. "These granules then come to our site here, where we do all stringent quality checks, produce it in a high-quality hardware with stringent process parameters and make it into a product which is fit for application. Like, for example, eco-friendly surfing boards."

Also known as "ghost nets", the often nylon plastic netting entangles marine life, snags boat propellers and damages engines.

The nets also degrade into microplastics that are eaten by fish, entering the food chain.

But companies like Starboard – based in Bangkok – can now put the old fishing nets to good use.

"We try to see where we can place them in great places, visible places in our products from boards to fins to bags, wherever, and people can see them and understand that actually recycling is like a little luxury, really," said the founder of Starboard Company, Svein Rasmussen.

Recent research showed 46 to 70 per cent of surface debris in some areas in the world's oceans is fishing gear.

But it's not only the world's polluted seas that benefit from this eco-friendly initiative.

The roughly a thousand fishermen that retrieve the abandoned nets are paid for the work - a boon of up to 20 per cent extra for their monthly income.