Comparison of the efficiency and modes of capture of biodegradable versus nylon gillnets in the Northeast Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) fishery
Modern gillnets are usually made of nylon with high breaking strength, suitable elasticity and durability making them an efficient fishing gear. Lost, abandoned, or discarded gillnets at sea cause plastic pollution and can continue capturing marine animals over long periods of time. Biodegradable materials are being developed to replace nylon in gillnets. However, biodegradable gillnets have shown reduced catch efficiency compared to the nylon gillnets which challenges their acceptance by the fishing sector. This study investigated catch efficiency and modes of capture between biodegradable and nylon gillnets in commercial cod (Gadus morhua) fishery. On average, new biodegradable gillnets caught 25% fewer cod compared to new nylon gillnets. The main capture modes were by the gills and by the body in used and new biodegradable gillnets, respectively. Differences in catch efficiency are related to specific modes of capture that may be related to differences in material properties.