Meet the graduate on a mission to clean up Cornwall’s coastline

04 August 2022

A man looks to his left, wearing sunglasses. The picture is in black and white
Type: Text
Category: Student stories

BA(Hons) Marine & Natural History Photography graduate Henry Giltjes-Vincent is thrilled to be channelling his love for the ocean into his new role as Marketing Coordinator for Cornish company Waterhaul.

Waterhaul are on a mission to clean up the Cornish coastline. The company, founded by a pair of frustrated marine conservationists, are turning damaging ocean pollutants into sunglasses and beach cleaning equipment.

The business is particularly interested in identifying and recycling ‘ghost gear’ - fishing gear that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded, and is the most harmful form of marine debris.

We spoke to Henry about the valuable role he is playing in Waterhaul’s mission, and how his Marine & Natural History Photography degree helps.

“These nets are the most lethal form of plastic to marine life… the high-quality plastics used to make the nets means they can continue catching wildlife for over 500 years.”

Can you tell us a little bit about Waterhaul?

Waterhaul are a Cornish company based in Newquay that transforms lost or discarded fishing gear - known as ‘ghost gear’ - into sunglasses and beach cleaning equipment.

Ghost gear is the most abundant form of macro-plastic in the ocean, with an additional 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear ending up in our seas every year.

These nets are the most lethal form of plastic to marine life as once they’re lost in the ocean they continue entangling marine life. The high-quality plastics used to make the nets means they can continue catching wildlife for over 500 years.

We collect the fishing nets ourselves when it washes up along Cornwall’s beaches. The nets are then washed, shredded and extruded into pellets. This 100% recycled raw material is then injection-moulded to form our sunglasses’ frames, litter picker handles and more, transforming the strongest plastics in the ocean into purposeful products that inspire action! 

What's the best thing about working for Waterhaul? 

Having grown up here in Cornwall, the ocean has always been a huge part of my life, so being able to give something back (ironically by taking something away – the ghost gear!) is really important to me.

What does your day-to-day look like? 

As a Marketing Coordinator, my daily tasks vary quite a lot. From social media management to getting out on location to photograph our products, to copywriting for website content and newsletters; there’s plenty to keep me busy!

We also head out on ghost net recovery missions when we can, searching Cornwall’s beaches and caves for ghost gear that gets left behind by the tides. Our most recent outing was from Newquay harbour, where we explored the cliffs and caves on our paddleboards and came back with a decent haul of nets and rope, ready to be cleaned, dried and turned into our products.

How have the skills you learnt on your course helped you in your job?

Without a doubt my skills as a photographer benefitted massively from my time at Falmouth, and despite my coursework on Marine & Natural History Photography being much more about the natural world (my final year coursework involved photographing dogs!), all the skills I learned have translated into Waterhaul’s more lifestyle and product-based work.

Coming out of A Levels and I]onto my degree, writing was something I absolutely dreaded. But through 3 years of essay writing, research journals and of course my dissertation, my writing developed significantly, to the point where I now enjoy it!

I’m constantly writing captions for social media posts, blog updates and newsletters, so developing my writing alongside my photography proved to be extremely valuable.

What advice would you give to those who have graduated this summer?

Keep on doing what you do! The prospect of enjoying a nice long summer after working so hard for your final deadlines seems really inviting, but September will come around quicker than you think, and you’ll suddenly realise you’re not going back to university, school or college, and picking up that camera/pencil/paintbrush without a deadline to work to will seem that much more daunting. 

Network, network, network! Use sites like LinkedIn, Instagram or TikTok to shout about your work and connect with other creatives, you never know what exciting opportunities may come up from getting your work out in front of people.


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