A nature-lover wants to explore yet conserve the environment in the best way possible. As an angler, if you catch fishes with a fishing net, you should know the risks it poses to nature. After all, traditional fishing nets are synthetic and non-biodegradable. Now the question arises, are biodegradable fishing nets available?
Are fishing nets Biodegradable? Researchers have recently developed biodegradable fishing nets. They have manufactured a polymer to create fishing nets that degrade in a short time. These biodegradable fishing nets are more eco-friendly and equally valuable as traditional nets.
There is more to biodegradable fishing nets, besides, the way they differ from traditional fishing nets. I will highlight the damaging effects of conventional fishing nets and the benefits of biodegradable nets in this article. If you love to protect the environment, you should not miss the details!
Detailed Information About Traditional Fishing Nets
Fishing nets are fish traps made from thin threads woven into a grid-like form. Anglers are using these nets to fish for a long time. They drop this fishing net in the water to catch fishes. Several types of fishing nets are available. They differ in their style, techniques, and pattern.
Material Used In The Manufacturing Of Traditional Fishing Nets
Initially, natural fibers made the long, thin thread of the fishing net, like grass, flaxes, and tree fibers. Fishing nets made with organic fibers like wool or silk are still present. Yet, modern fishing nets started using synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon.
Fishing nets have been a convenient way to fish on a large-scale. Over the years, net fishing has been a successful way to get food. But, modern, synthetic fishing nets have raised some issues. These problems are about their environmental impact and sustainability of the fishery.
Environmental Impacts Of Traditional Fishing Nets
The advancement in technology led to the production of durable synthetic fishing nets. But, these modern fishing nets seem to harm the environment and sea life.
The major limitation of these traditional fishing nets is that they do not decompose. The materials used in these synthetic nets take decades or even more to degrade. Due to which, it leaves an impact on the environment on a larger scale, for an extensive period.
Traditional fishing nets damage the sealife and environment in the following ways:
In seafloor or bottom trawling, anglers drag fishing nets across the floor of the sea. This technique of fishing destroys and damages several benthic species. It kills many seabed communities forming marine habitats, such as corals and oysters.
Moreover, this practice has particularly ravaged Oyster reefs in many places. The impact of this eradication is extensive. Without these filter feeders, marine life will suffer and die due to its harmful effects.
Size Of The Net
The mesh size of the net also affects the sustainability of marine life. Due to the small mesh size, undersized and non-marketable fishes get trapped in the net. These fishes are of no use to the anglers, and they dispose of it as waste. Because of this reason, many unwanted fishes decimate and go to waste.
Bycatching is the unintentional and accidental catching of non-targeted aquatic animals. When a long line or netting catches the target fish, it traps other fishes as well. Dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks are some of the victims of bycatching.
Among all marine animals, sea turtles are more prone to capture in the net. Sea turtles swim to the water’s surface to breathe, which is when the net wraps around their flippers. Due to this, they cannot reach the surface and remain entangled at one spot.
As per an estimate, bycatching has killed more than 85,000 sea turtles over two decades. Also, bycatching takes the lives of almost 3 million sharks and 300,000 marine mammals in a year.
The ghost net is a term for fishing nets abandoned or lost by anglers in the water. Thus, these ghost nets stay in the ocean for hundreds of years. They wound around many sea animals like dolphins, whales, sea turtles, or seabirds. Then, it limits the animal’s movement. This reason causes their death due to starvation, scraping, or suffocation.
Fishing nets are sturdy, durable, and invisible underwater. When ghosted in the water, these features become fatal for non-targeted aquatic animals. As these fibers are strong, animals cannot break free from them. Due to their invisibility, animals cannot avoid it either.
The most deadly feature of the net is its durability. Non-biodegradable, synthetic fibers make up the threads of the traditional nets. So, these abandoned fishing nets take almost 600 years to degrade and decompose in the water. They remain long-standing in the ocean, killing wildlife, and polluting the sea environment.
These plastic nets endanger sea life and become a cause of damaging fisheries. Fishers abandon about 600,000 to 800,000 metric tons of ghost gear each year. In total, it makes up the largest garbage patch of the ocean. According to a report, almost 25% of marine litter is in the form of ghost nets.
Implications of these lost and abandoned nets on marine life are increasing each day. So, it calls for solutions to tackle the effects of conventional nets on marine life. That is why many researchers have investigated the use of eco-friendly fishing gear.
Detailed Information About Biodegradable Fishing Nets
Many researchers sought the alternative of synthetic, conventional fishing nets. A research study found that biodegradable material is available to manufacture fishing nets. They developed a polymer of 82% polybutylene succinate (PBS) and 18% polybutylene adipate‐co‐terephthalate (PBAT). This polymer is a biodegradable material.
The developed material will make biodegradable nets. Those nets will decay sooner than the synthetic fishing nets. It would take almost two years for biodegradable nets to decompose underwater. Also, biodegradable nets would give out the same rate of catch as synthetic fishing nets. Hence, biodegradable fishing nets would be viable economically, as well.
There are also some drawbacks attached to biodegradable fishing nets. They might not be as durable as conventional nets and break down easily. Also, they would be more expensive than traditional nets. But, their value for lessening the impact of synthetic gear on the environment makes up for the cost. In the broader frame, eco-friendly fishing nets will reduce pollution. It will also lessen the loss of marine life.
Environmental Benefits Of The Biodegradable Fishing Nets
The reason behind the use of biodegradable material is to reduce marine pollution. Also, the aim is to encourage anglers to stop throwing away their fishing nets in the water. Despite some challenges, biodegradable nets do offer benefits to the environment.
Biodegradable fishing nets can help in the following areas:
Reduce Ghost Fishing
Biodegradable fishing nets will save hundreds of sea animals who die due to ghost nets. This net decays after almost two years. The degradation time is lesser than that of conventional nets. Also, it is less durable than the standard nets, making it easier for animals to break free from it.
Biodegradable fishing nets will also reduce the bycatching of non-targeted sea animals. It will lessen the amount of capturing immature and undersized fishes. So, these animals will not go to waste.
Reduction Of Marine pollution
Biodegradable fishing nets will significantly lower the rate of marine debris. They are degradable and decompose faster than conventional nets. That is why they will reduce the plastic pollution on the seashore and within the water. Also, anglers would think twice before tossing them due to their cost.
Similar Fishing Rate As Traditional Fishing Nets
The best part about eco-friendly nets is that they would not cause any harm economically. Its frequency and rate of catching fishes are equal to traditional fishing nets. This factor is the primary goal of every angler. Hence, along with conserving the environment, biodegradable fishing nets are also cost-effective.
Biodegradable fishing nets might be costly and less durable. But, they are better for the protection of the environment. Researchers have worked hard to develop biodegradable nets. These nets are available with more eco-friendly features. So, anglers should try to reduce the use of traditional fishing nets to conserve nature.