marine pollution caused by non-degradable plastics

The ecological and socio-economic problems caused by abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear are increasingly of concern.

Used primarily by coastal, artisanal, small-scale fisheries worldwide, marine gillnets and trammel nets, which have relatively high ghost fishing potential, account for about one-fifth of global marine fisheries landings. Ghost fishing also affects non-target species including seabirds, sea turtles, marine mammals and elasmobranchs, some of which are endangered, threatened or protected.


Raising community awareness

Providing biodegradable fishing nets to the local fleet

Ghost fishing also affects non-target species including seabirds, sea turtles, marine mammals and elasmobranchs, some of which are endangered, threatened or protected. It also contributes to marine pollution by introducing synthetic (non-biodegradable) plastic materials into the marine food web, including microscopic plastic material and toxic chemicals derived from fishing gear. 

The amount, distribution and effects of lost fishing gear have risen substantially in past decades with the rapid expansion of fishing effort and the use of synthetic, durable and buoyant materials.

As a result of all these problems, marine pollution caused by non-degradable plastics has become one of the most serious problems worldwide.

Unprecedented pilot test

The project E-REDES

The present proposal aims at implementing a pilot study in the Marine Protected Area of the Northern Littoral Marine Park, were degradable gillnets and trammel nets will be provided to the fishing community in an unprecedented pilot test.

The effect of this initiative on the reduction of ghost fishing and of synthetic plastic materials in the ocean will be assessed. Alongside, a thorough study and update of the state of knowledge will be conducted in order to determine the physical properties to be measured, the procedures to be adopted in the characterization of the degradation of biodegradable monofilaments, to promote the capacity building for producing fishing gear from selected biodegradable monofilaments, and to compare the fishing performance of nets made of conventional nylon and of the biodegradable material. Subsequently the sustainability of using biodegradable materials versus conventional synthetic gear will be assessed considering economic (costs and local economy), environmental (ecosystems health and biodiversity) and social (traditions and local practices) factors.

Another key challenge in this project is to identify litter sources and evaluate the amount and nature present on beaches. This information is crucial to take action against the sources of marine litter and help to design future management measures to tackle this challenge, based on systematic and consistent monitoring to provide decision makers with the evidence needed to take action. The final challenge is the promotion of awareness in the community.


Task 1

Prospecting and obtaining biodegradable resins for fishing gear production

Task 2

Selection, certification, durability, resistance and biodegradability tests to biodegradable resins for the production of fishing nets

Task 3

Manufacturing fishing nets from biodegradable materials

Task 4

Catch efficiency test of nets produced with biodegradable materials compared to conventional nets

Task 5

Economic feasibility study on the use of biodegradable fishing nets on a regional scale

Task 6

Campaigns for removal, quantification / spatial distribution and typification of ashored marine litter

Task 7

Transport, recycling and / or reuse of marine litter

Task 8

Communication plan

Task 9

Coordination and management


The E-REDES project in numbers

Tons of marine litter collected
beach cleanups volunteers
News on media
Fishermen involved
Manufactured biodegradable fishnets



The team E-REDES

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Financed by:

a promover uma pesca sustentável

Programme operator

republica portuguesa




Project financed by
Iceland, Liechenstein and Norway through EEA Grants

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