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Biodegradable pot trial hopes to make local fishing more sustainable

Biodegradable pot trial hopes to make local fishing more sustainable

Thursday 20 April 2023

Biodegradable pot trial hopes to make local fishing more sustainable

Thursday 20 April 2023

The island's Marine Resources is working with the local 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 that same net, creating a vicious cycle.

Therefore, Marine Resources are working with members of the fishing community in Jersey 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 getting trapped in the equipment.

Marine and Fisheries Scientist, Francis Binney explained that the fishing pots in the trial are "totally normal" except for the small piece of twine holding them shut, which is 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 only continue to fish for a short period of time, until the twine breaks. 

"Hopefully it will help reduce the environmental impact of ghost fishing," said Mr Binney.


Pictured: Recent figures from the WWF indicate that between 500,000 and one million tons of ghost fishing equipment are abandoned in the ocean each year.

The biodegradable pot elements are currently used successfully off Greenland, and the local trial hopes to adapt this method to work in Jersey too.

Mr Binney explained that the local trial – which is expected to take three or four months – involves working out the correct thickness of the twine to ensure that it is strong enough to keep the pots closed during fishing, but thin enough to biodegrade within a relatively short amount of time if the pot is 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."

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