A serious problem with a relatively simple solution (thanks to Conservation magazine’s website):
Researchers have found that biodegradable gillnets catch fish as well as conventional nylon nets—and more quickly lose their ability to entangle animals when discarded at sea. Even more, the degradable nets tend to trap fewer young fish and bycatch.
Fishing nets that have been lost, abandoned, or discarded at sea account for ten percent of all the marine litter circulating in the world’s oceans. These 640,000 tonnes of nets aren’t just a plastic pollution problem, however. Long after they are lost, they continue to fish at sea on their own, trapping not only fish but seabirds and mammals in a phenomenon known as ghost fishing.
To combat this problem, researchers have been developing gillnets made of biodegradable materials, but the challenge has been to make them as good at catching fish as conventional gillnets are. In one of the most comprehensive studies to date, researchers assessed the fishing performance of a biodegradable gillnet at sea and its degradability in the lab. The results, published recently in Animal Conservation, provide some good news.
“Using a biodegradable net didn’t have much impact on how many adult fish were caught, but when it came to young fish and bycatch of other species, they caught much less,” says co-author Petri Suuronen. “That was a positive surprise.”
The fishing performance of the biodegradable nets were tested during six outings of a commercial yellow-croaker fishing vessel in the waters off southwestern South Korea…
Read the whole article here.