Biodegradable fishing nets: Is the end of ghost nets in the oceans?

Biodegradable fishing nets: Is the end of ghost nets in the oceans?

Ghost nets lost from fishing boats become deadly traps for marine wildlife, persisting for centuries. Now a joint project between South Africa and Sweden aims to end the problem of biodegradable fishing nets.

Fishing nets lost at sea are a The main source of plastic pollution in the oceans. These so-called “ghost nets” drift around the world, catching and killing fish, dolphins, seals, birds and sea turtles. They can last up to 600 years, releasing microplastics as they slowly decompose.

Now the South African initiative Catchgreen is developing a solution. By creating nets and other equipment from biodegradable Biodolomer, the net lost in the sea will decompose into biomass within a few years. They also have a higher density so they sink to the bottom of the ocean where they cause less damage and are vulnerable to microbes that speed up the decomposition process.

“Biodolomer nets will not only reduce ghost hunting,” he says. Emma Algotsson, Project Lead at Catchgreen and CEO of Kompost-It. “It will reduce the amount of microplastics in the ocean. Old nets can be disposed of in industrial composting facilities and converted into biomass.

Biodolomer was invented by a packaging materials legend Aki Rosin He played an active role in developing many materials for Tetra Pak and has more than 65 patents to his name. It has been produced and marketed by Gaia Biomaterials in Sweden since 2015, and is used in everything from grocery bags to beer cups and agricultural cling film.

“It’s a material that has all the properties of plastic that the user wants — but it’s biodegradable,” he says Peter Stenström, CEO of Gaia Biomaterials AB.

“Industries from all over the world are finding new uses for it. We regularly develop customized versions. By changing the formulation, we can for example change the elasticity and how long the final product will take to decompose.

Unlike some bioplastics, Biodolomer does not dispose of any microplastics and uses a very limited amount of natural resources. In most Biodolomer products, limestone is a major ingredient.

“Limestone is one of the most common minerals on the planet,” Stenstrom points out. “When Biodolomer decomposes it becomes… Water, carbon dioxide and soil enriched with calcium carbonate.”

Developing biodegradable fishing nets has been difficult. The Emma and Gaia Biomaterials team have dedicated years to creating a suitable substrate for the threads used in larger nets, collaborating closely with net producers in South Africa.

“In 2023, we will conduct real-life tests of gillnets in Kenyan waters. We are also working on Biodegradable ropes and nets for coral and seaweed recovery and kelp harvesting. The ultimate goal is to experiment with the materials needed for the trawl.

Catchgreen is partly funded by The UK Government’s Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution Program (SMEP). The SMEP is implemented in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Catch Green fishing nets are scheduled to hit the market in 2024. For more information visit And

Gaia Biomaterials

Peter Stenstrom, CEO

; +46 708 85 34 37

Catchgreen – South Africa

Emma Algotsson, project leader

+27 82 822 8415

GAIA Biomaterials manufactures Biodolomer. A biodegradable material that has most of the qualities of plastic – but not the disadvantages.
It is biodegradable, very low in CO2 and leaves no microplastics or plastic pollution behind. Biodolomer is used in a large number of applications and can be used with most production technologies used for plastics.
The company is based in Helsingborg, Sweden and has a number of patents on bioplastics. The company was founded in 2015 by Aki Rosen, widely regarded as one of the world’s leading packaging materials scientists for decades.


(tags for translation) Sweden

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