Biodegradable fishing gear: part of the solution to ghost fishing and marine pollution
Abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) cause substantial ecological and socioeconomic problems. Ghost fishing occurs when ALDFG continues to catch and kill organisms, which can contribute to compromising the viability of some populations of at-risk species (Kaiser et al., 1996; IWC, 2013; Gilman, 2015; Gilman et al., 2016). Mortalities from ghost fishing are a source of wastage and reduce the economic viability of the fishing sector. Ghost fishing removes as much as 30% of landed catches of market species in some fisheries (Gilman et al., 2016). There are also social concerns over ghost fishing mortality of flagship megafauna and over the relatively long duration for organisms caught in ALDFG to die (IWC, 2013). Floating marine debris can form mass concentrations, altering ecological communities, while ALDFG that sinks can adversely affect benthic habitats (Derraik, 2002; Macfadyen, Huntington & Cappel, 2009). ALDFG can transport invasive alien species. Synthetic compounds, including microscopic plastic material and toxic chemicals derived from some fishing gear components, and from lead in fishing weights, accumulate in marine food webs (Derraik, 2002; Gilman et al., 2016).