A seemingly harmless repurposing of Woolworths Ooshies has triggered serious calls for the viral craze to end.
Keen fishermen during this year’s promotion discovered Ooshies could be used as fishing lures, especially the ones that glowed in the dark due to their ability to attract certain fish.
The hack was labelled a genius use for the plastic toys, which were widely criticised for being wasteful and harmful to the environment.
Some took to social media offering cash for Ooshies, before stock ran out prematurely.
There are now concerns however that the long-term costs of the Ooshie lures could far outweigh the benefits.
‘Damaging’ impact of Ooshies hack on environment
The plastic in the collectables isn’t designed for the ocean, and certainly not for the stomach of fish, unlike regular lures which are safe to be eaten.
“My first thoughts about putting anything into the ocean that isn’t known to be suitable to go in the ocean, is that it isn’t a good way to go,” Jason Kidd, owner of fishing charter company Inshore Fishing, said.
“They could damage the environment for the turtles and the other animals in there. I don’t know if Woolworths would have planned for them to be in the ocean,” Mr Kidd told Yahoo News Australia.
Regular fishing lures were designed to be biodegradable and sustainable, Mr Kidd said, adding that if fish did swallow them, they wouldn’t be harmed by doing so.
“We don’t know whether these Ooshies are safe for the animals. My suggestion is that until we know, we probably shouldn’t be putting them in the ocean,” he said.
Given the size and ferocity of some of the fish, Mr Kidd argued it wouldn’t take much for Ooshies to be torn apart and end up in the stomach of a fish, or that of another sea creature.
“We just don’t know what these Ooshies are. They are pieces of plastic from Woolworths,” he said.
Some individuals had brought Ooshies on to a charter with the intention of using them as lures, but Mr Kidd requested they use traditional lures instead.
“I brought the issue to their attention and they were happy not to use them after thinking about it a bit more. I don’t think they were doing anything deliberately wrong,” he said.
Woolworths has previously responded to fishermen using Ooshies as lures and explained that the practice was not encouraged by the supermarket.
“While we don't encourage the use of Ooshies for fishing bait, they can be used in many other ways - from storytelling, taking care of them as a special collector’s items or popping them on the back of pencils,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
The spokesperson said Ooshies recycled in store would be repurposed into plastic pellets via a partnership with TerraCycle, which can contribute to making outdoor products such as garden beds, decks, fences and benches.
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