A Newquay-based social enterprise working to turn ocean waste into useable products has secured £250k of growth finance from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF). The funding will be used for marketing, product development, equipment and to create new jobs.

While working as a marine scientist in locations across the globe, Waterhaul founder and CEO Harry Dennis witnessed ‘ghost gear’ – fishing equipment and nets that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded – on every shoreline. On realising the qualities that make the nets such a problem in the ocean – their durability, strength and abundance – are also highly desirable in a raw material, he set about turning this problem into a resource.

The result is a business that collects fishing nets by hand from Cornwall’s coastline for recycling into a range of beach conservation accessories and high-quality eyewear.

Dennis said: “At Waterhaul we produce premium-quality sunglasses that come with a lifetime guarantee. We’re proud of this but what matters more is our purpose. We’ve made great progress collecting and repurposing nets over the last three years but to have a material impact on the volume of ghost gear in our oceans and on our shores, we need to grow and increase capacity.

“The CIOSIF loan is crucial to this growth. As a young business with insufficient track record for many lenders, we are grateful to be working with a projection-led finance provider who understands our mission and is willing to back our potential.”

Waterhaul’s expansion plans include a move to new premises where it can undertake more of the currently outsourced processes in-house, as well as creating its own glasses designs and expanding its product range. It is already supplying major retailers including Glasses Direct and Vision Express, and B2B channels will be a focus for further growth. And with nets in abundant supply, production of recycled plastic will exceed Waterhaul’s need for its own products so in the future it will look to supply this high-quality material to other brands wishing to create a more sustainable offering.

Tim Williams, investment manager at appointed CIOSIF fund manager, The FSE Group, commented: “Waterhaul is an impressive business that is already making great headway in a sector close to Cornwall’s heart. Their commercial acumen is grounded by a desire to bring about real change.”

The £40 million Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund provides debt and equity finance from £25k to £2 million to help growing small businesses across the region. It has been established by the British Business Bank in partnership with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

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