Aquaculture for all

Researchers Investigate Biodegradable Fishing Nets

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OMAN - Dr Hussein S al Masroori, a Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) assistant professor, is working on the creation of biodegradable fishing nets in order to try and mitigate the harm that lost nets cause to marine life.

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Around 15,000 fishing nets are lost in the sea each year, Dr Masroori told the MuscatDaily.

“Conventional nets left in the sea for up to a week by fishermen can get lost due to several reasons like interference with other gear, theft, ocean currents, wind or boat collisions. Even when lost, these nets continue to trap fish for at least three months,” he said.

“Demersal longline using synthetic fibre is the most common fishing technique in Oman.” The mainline is often several kilometres long to which shorter lines (branch lines) carrying baited hooks are attached. Longlines can be up to 100km long with as many as 20,000 baited hooks. They are made of steel wire and synthetic substances.

“Demersal longlines are set along the seabed targeting bottom-dwelling species such as hake, sharks and Patagonian toothfish among others. These lines are normally held to the ocean floor with an anchor,” he said.

Dr Masroori and his team are studying benefits of biodegradable fishing traps that can dissolve in water.

“If the traps are biodegradable, the natural fibre will dissolve in water in three days and could prevent unwanted fish mortality.”

Dr Masroori said his team is testing traps made from cotton, Manila fibre, coconut fibre and the Chinese barn tree. “The findings will determine the lifespan of each fibre, on the basis of which we will recommend the best one that can replace steel and synthetic fibre traps.”