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Don’t be surprised if you see groups of people sailing down the canals of Amsterdam equipped with fishing nets and peering into the water.

They could well be river cruise passengers on one of the most unusual shore excursions yet – saving the planet.

Plastic fishing is a new eco-friendly activity that is gaining momentum on the canals of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

The cruises are run by Dutch company Plastic Whale and more than 20,000 people have gone on a plastic fishing mission so far.

Founder Marius Smit told AFP that Plastic Whale managed to collect 46,000 plastic bottles with the help of thousands of amateur fisherman last year.

“And for every bag of bottles that we take out of the canals, we take out two or three bags of other kinds of materials,” he added.

Angela Katz, an Australian who has lived in Amsterdam for just over a year, has done two tours and shares that during the two-hour tour they fish out a bizarre range of objects.

This includes: various shoes, ski gloves, bleached out soda cans, wine bottles, a nappy, and even a whole pineapple.

Guy O’Loughnane, a Canadian friend whom Ms Katz brought on the cruise was also surprised by the amount of “stuff that is not even used”, such as unopened bottles.

In fact, the boats that are used in the tours are made from the plastic bottles that are fished from the canals. The collected plastic is also recycled into furniture that is designed by LAMA Concept and also made in the Netherlands by Vepa.

The furniture collection features a ‘whale’ table, ‘whale tail’ chair, ‘barnacle’ lamp and decorative ‘whale’ panel with pleats that are reminiscent of a whale’s throat.

It is part of a growing number of initiatives launched with Amsterdam authorities to direct tourists to alternative activities to ease the pressure on the cities’ top sites.