THE Island’s Marine Resources team is working with the fishing community to trial biodegradable pot elements in a bid to reduce ‘ghost fishing’.
Ghost fishing occurs when lost or abandoned fishing gear continues to capture fish.
Sea creatures caught in the equipment can die and attract scavengers, which get caught in the same net, creating a vicious cycle.
So Marine Resources are working with members of the fishing community to trial fishing pots held shut with biodegradable twine which would break down if the pot was lost at sea and reduce the number of sea creatures trapped in the equipment.
Marine and fisheries scientist Francis Binney explained that the fishing pots in the trial were ‘totally normal’ except for the small piece of twine holding them shut, which was designed to ‘break down in about three months’.
He explained that this would reduce the impact of ghost fishing, as any pots lost at sea would continue to fish for only a short period of time, until the twine breaks.
‘Hopefully it will help reduce the environmental impact of ghost fishing,’ said Mr Binney.
The biodegradable pot elements are currently used successfully off Greenland.
Mr Binney explained that the local trial – which is expected to take three or four months – involved working out the correct thickness of the twine to ensure that it was strong enough to keep the pots closed during fishing, but thin enough to biodegrade within a relatively short amount of time if the pot was lost at sea.
If the trial is successful, the twine could be introduced as either a voluntary or compulsory measure in local fishing.
‘The cost is cheap, but it just involves a bit of time and effort from the fishermen,’ explained Mr Binney.
‘It’s a nice thing to do to make fishing a bit more sustainable and ensure more lobsters stay in the system.’