Beacon Project

100 Years

100 Years is a textile installation made from lobster bands found throughout Nova Scotia. It is meant to act as a resonant point for discussions with our water protectors, fishermen, artists, researchers, and the viewer, to discuss ways to change how we handle marine pollution.

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The issue of marine pollution is both an ecological and social injustice. It is not only environmental pollution, but it is visual pollution - especially when connected to our coasts that have been subjected to trauma and colonization for centuries. Specifically with ghost-fishing gear, in this case, rubber lobster bands, there is a lack of communication and honesty. There is debate on whether or not the rubber bands are biodegradable, and there is little to no accountability for the amounts washed up on our shores. No numbers, no names, and no effort to prevent the pollution on multiple levels - from manufacture, to distribution, to usage.

100 Years is a quilt made from hundreds of discarded lobster bands and is meant to act as a resonant point for discussions with our water protectors, artists, researchers, fishermen and the viewer, with potential for change in our methods of handling marine pollution. This work is not meant to blame, but to draw awareness to the miscommunication that has been circulating for decades.

The majority of lobster bands used in this installation have been collected on Big Island Beach, in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Within approximately one kilometre of beachcombing, nearly 500 bands were found washed up onshore. Friends and family have also been collecting many bands throughout Nova Scotia, showing how this problem is widespread, yet still close to home.

Research has proven that there is no simple fix to solving the lobster band issue due to costs, lack of regulation by the DFO, and also due to the fact that the bands must be durable enough to prevent the lobsters from injuring each other and spreading disease. Also, the lobster bands that are used do not degrade nearly as quickly as people think. They likely take around 100 years, depending on the specific material and environmental conditions that they are put through. This is proven by the amount we find on the seafloor and our shores, and also from the amount of microplastics researchers have found in both sand and the sea.

There are solutions out there, but there needs to be an ongoing discussion with the fishing industry, designers and engineers alike in order to enact change. Having a visual representation of the amount of lobster bands may be the first step in showcasing the actual impact of these bands. There is great potential for new band designs, shore cleanup initiatives and further research which can solve the ongoing issue of marine pollution.