SEWARD (AP) -- The Russian fishing crew caught in May illegally stretching 40 miles of driftnet into the Bering Sea to intercept salmon had no idea their net one day might become bicycle seats.
Yet that's where the piles of lightweight plastic net are headed.
The 177-foot Honduran-registered vessel was seized by the National Marine Fisheries Service and sold at auction last month. But the vessel's net is headed to Burlington, Wash., where Skagit River Steel and Recycling will melt the net into pellets.
The pellets then will be sold to Taiwanese or Korean manufacturers to become bicycle seats and other plastic products.
Discarded commercial fish nets are recycled and the money collected from their sale goes to high schools on the Kenai Peninsula under a program begun in 1993 by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association.
The discarded net is stockpiled. Once a year, fishermen and students from area high schools gather to remove the cork, weights and other debris from the nets. The cleaned webbing then is baled and shipped south.
The association's office manager, Cindy Hall, told the Seward Phoenix Log that 23 tons of net has been recycled and almost $2,500 has been returned to participating schools since the program began.
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