“Ghost nets” are fishing nets that are either intentionally or accidentally forgotten, lost or simply disposed of in the sea. They no longer serve a practical purpose, but they still pose a threat to marine life that should not be underestimated and can have dramatic effects on ecosystems in the oceans. One way to defuse this risk would be to use biodegradable nets.
Fishing nets are identified as a clear problem area in the Single-Use Plastics Directive, the single-use plastic directive of the European Union, which will be issued in July 2021. That is why the EU directive contains measures to collect and recycle old nets. However, this continues to be a challenge - not least because of the enormous dimensions of the oceans.
The aim of SEALIVE is to initiate a change to biodegradable, compostable nets and also to establish the necessary infrastructure for collecting the old nets. The aim is to create a market for otherwise useless fishing nets that offer incentives for the fishing industry to switch to sustainable disposal methods. If the biodegradable nets are lost, they will degrade much faster in the water than traditional nets. The potential for these nets to end up as “ghost nets” is therefore much lower.
In a 12-month test, the SEALIVE nets are now to be put to the test and tested under real conditions for 12 months. The results of this test should help to evaluate the effectiveness and usability of the networks.
The company SEALIVE wants to counter this problem with biodegradable fishing nets made of materials such as microalgae. Even the production of these nets is closer than that of nets based on plastics made from fossil fuels. In addition, the nets will also be compostable on an industrial scale, which is particularly important because so far there is no widespread infrastructure for recycling fishing nets in many countries. Recycling traditional fishing nets is also labor-intensive and not economically viable.