David and Maya Cooper, Seaside Weavers, in front of their booth at Friday Night Market | Photos: Stephanie McGeary


Crab pot rope is usually used for crabbing, of course. But what happens to it when the fisherfolk are done using it? Well, usually it either ends up getting thrown away or sitting around, sad and tangled in a garage somewhere. But for Seaside Weavers – a small, Eureka-based business run by couple David and Maya Cooper – that used crab rope is pure gold, just waiting to be given new life by being woven into a “MerMat.”

What the heck is a “MerMat,” you ask? It’s the name the Coopers have given to their heavy-duty doormats, woven from 100 percent recycled crab rope that they source from fishing boats all around northern California. 

“It’s just been amazing,” Maya Cooper told the Outpost while sitting at the Seaside Weavers booth at last week’s Friday Night Market in Old Town. “We just made one mat and now we have this whole life. You never know where it’s gonna take you when you put your foot on the path.”

The Coopers said they first got the idea when they were at their son’s wedding in New Hampshire, saw a mat made from recycled lobster rope and thought it might be cool to do a similar thing out here, using crab rope. Then, one day, David – who was a truck driver for Pepsi at the time – was making a delivery in Crescent City and had parked near where some fishermen were going through their gear. He asked them if they had any rope they were done with, Cooper said, and they handed him a big pile. 

David then learned how to build a loom and taught himself to weave, mostly from watching YouTube videos, he said. When he finally made his first mat, David came out and grabbed his wife to show her what he had created. She was thrilled and David started making the mats regularly, weaving at their Eureka home and selling the mats to people they know. 

Then in early 2021, the couple decided to sell their new wares at the Fig Twig Mother’s Day Market and had to create enough inventory to have a booth. David decided to take a week off from work and in that time he managed to weave 29 mats to bring to the market. The booth completely sold out in about an hour, David said, and that’s when he knew that this business could actually take off. After that, David decided to retire a little bit earlier than he had planned so that he could focus on weaving mats. 

David Cooper explains what these mats are to a potential customer

Each mat is woven from 150 (for the smaller mats) to 200 feet (for the larger mats) of rope collected from crabbers stationed in Crescent City, Bodega Bay, Fort Bragg and San Francisco and our own Humboldt Bay. The Coopers now have relationships with the fisherfolk and collect rope from them individually and also from a collection bin they put out on Woodley Island. Usually the fishermen are very happy to provide the rope, the Coopers said, because there is really nothing else for them to do with it once it is no longer suitable for crabbing, and they usually just have to throw it away anyway. 

Once they get the rope, David begins the pre-weaving process, which can sometimes be very involved, depending on the condition of the rope. Sometimes they get lucky and are given rolls of clean rope that the crabbers decided not to use because it had some sort of defect. Other times they are given huge piles of dirty, tangled rope that David has to spend hours, or even days untangling. After the untangling is complete, David cleans the rope and removes any debris. 

“Usually each mat takes a little over an hour in front of the loom,” David said. “But there are hours of preparation.” 

Sea Weavers’ mats, which run between $65 and $75, might seem a little pricey for a doormat, but the MerMats are incredibly durable and will withstand our soggy Humboldt weather. Even though the rope may no longer be good for fishing, it can still get a lot of life as a mat and “will last for generations,” Maya said. Also, because the Coopers use a variety of different used rope, no two mats look alike. Because each mat is so unique, Maya gives them all their own name, often something whimsical and sea-themed. 

Some of the mats, with Harry Potter/ocean-themed names

“The rope has had a long life already and is a spirited being,” Maya said. “It’s being reintroduced into the world in its new format. And that’s part of why we name them – we want you to bond with it, because you’re going to have it for a long time. Like a puppy.” 

Though David weaves the mats, Maya also does some weaving of her own, using the rope leftover from the mats to make baskets – both hanging baskets to use for plants and regular baskets that can be used for anything you want! Since a big goal of the Sea Weavers business is keeping the rope out of the landfill, it’s important to the Coopers to not waste any of the rope. 

Sustainability is very important to the Coopers and Seaside Weavers even received a Zero Waste Humboldt “Zero Hero” award in 2021, of which the Coopers are very proud. 

Some of the Seaside Weavers’ baskets

In addition to promoting zero waste, the Coopers are also dedicated to supporting our local fishing industry by buying local and promoting local fish as part of their business. At their booth at fairs and markets, Seaside Weavers sells cans of local fish and provides a list of local fishing boats and how people can get on their notification lists to receive updates on when they are coming in with fresh seafood.

The Coopers also help support the Commercial Fishermen’s Wives of Humboldt – a nonprofit that works to educate the community on the fishing industry, funds scholarships and promotes fisher and vessel safety – by selling hats embossed with the Seaside Weavers logo, and donating 100 percent of the proceeds to the nonprofit organization. 

If you’re interested in purchasing Seaside Weavers’ mats, baskets or hats, you can buy from their website (they deliver for free between Trinidad and Fortuna), find their products at any of these retail locations, or look for their booth at any of the upcoming Friday Night Markets in Old Town. The friendly couple will enthusiastically talk to you about their products, process and their mission.

“We get to come out and meet people and share what we’ve been making with our hands,” Maya said. “We’re having so much fun!”