Biodegradable fishing nets could prevent sea mammal deaths

“We wanted to develop a project for the fishing industry which turned sustainability into a driver of profit,” he said. “The ghost net and plastic soup phenomena threaten the way of life for many populations, so it’s a problem we were very interested in tackling,” said the designer. “We looking for a very simple, cheap, small unobtrusive piece of technology which could enter the system and make a huge difference,” Plasencia told Dezeen. Abandoned fishing nets that remain in the sea continue catching fish and trapping marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins, before breaking down into millions of tiny plastic pieces. The plastic releases toxins and is consumed mistakenly as food by all kinds of marine organisms right down to microscopic zooplankton. Alejandro Plasencia’s Remora system includes a biodegradable net, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, an RFID reader and an app. “The polymer is threaded and then knitted into meshes with different densities, in factories in the north of Spain. Remora was shortlisted for this year’s James Dyson Foundation Award and was the competition’s national winner for Spain. Related story: “Bio-reactive” expiry marks for food win UK James Dyson Award 2014The elements could combine to help fishermen find and repair damaged nets instead of abandoning them to become “ghost nets” and breaking down into “plastic soup”. The pieces are sewn together with huge plastic needles into the nets’ purse form.”

Plasencia predicted that the creation and use of the his nets would use 54 per cent less energy than the current designs. Engineering student Alejandro Plasencia has created biodegradable fishing nets and tracking tags for fishermen to help stop aquatic mammals getting trapped in lost trawling equipment (+ movie). The RFID reader combined with the app would then enable fishermen to track, retrieve and repair the nets more efficiently, or declare them as lost and notify NGOs like Healthy Seas so they can recover them. These assorted pieces of net are transported and assembled in facilities close to the harbours where the fishing boats make their technical stops.

Updated: 17.11.2014 — 08:00