Guest Blog by Zach Norton at Marine Depot Direct
Plastics are among the most environmentally harmful of all man-made materials, and for several reasons. For one, plastics can be toxic, potentially polluting the environment and poisoning animals that eat them. Another issue is that plastics break down into microplastics, which can be ingested and cause harm to wildlife.
Finally, there’s also the matter of wildlife getting caught in plastic, which can cause a great deal of injury and death.
Further adding to the problem is the fact that plastics can take hundreds of years to break down, increasing the harm they cause.
Unfortunately, some of these harmful plastics come from fishing, whether recreational or industrial. Some fishing items can break away accidentally, leaving them to float or sink, where they can do damage. In other cases, the plastic has come from careless anglers who discard broken lures or tangled nets because they’re no longer useful to them.
Other examples include boating materials that might end up in the water and discarded food packaging that is thrown overboard.
To reduce the amount of plastics and other harmful materials introduced to the environment, many anglers are doing their part by sticking to safe materials and practices.
Here are some of the top biodegradable solutions that help reduce the environmental impact of boating and fishing.
While plastic used to make fishing nets can pollute the environment, the nets themselves can continue to catch fish and other aquatic animals for many years after they have been lost or discarded.
These animals get caught up in the net and, unable to escape, will eventually die. They present a danger to any aquatic animal that might swim into them, including rays, sharks, dolphins, turtles, and even whales.
However, biodegradable nets are under development to help reduce the severity of the problem. Even if it takes several years for these nets to dissolve, it is an improvement over nets that will remain in the ocean for hundreds of years.
Fishing lures are an essential piece of kit for many anglers, depending on what they prefer to catch. Such lures are typically designed to resemble other fish that might make a tasty meal for a larger predator and are lined with sharp hooks that ensure the catch can’t get away once snagged.
Most fishing lures are made from plastics because plastic is easy to mold into the desired shape and size. Unfortunately, these lures will often break away from the line they’re on, leaving them to remain in the water where they will pose a hazard to the environment and wildlife.
However, biodegradable lures pose less of a threat to the environment, fish, and other aquatic creatures. While some biodegradable lures still take around two years to dissolve in water, it will help reduce how much plastic we use in addition to helping protect the environment.
3. Fishing Lines
Fishing lines are another example of tackle that anglers cannot do without. They are essential for casting lures and other tackle out into the water, and they are also needed for bringing a catch in.
To prevent alerting a potential catch to danger, fishing lines must be very thin. They also need to be very strong to help ensure the line can take the weight of the fish as it fights against being reeled in. To meet these criteria, many fishing lines are made from monofilament fiber, which is a single strand of plastic.
These lines pose a threat to many aquatic animals as they can get tangled in them, causing injury and even death.
One of the biggest challenges facing those trying to make biodegradable fishing lines is that they need to be strong. However, numerous biodegradable fishing line products are available. Another option is to use recycled fishing line, which will at least help reduce harm to the environment because it can be manufactured without creating more plastic.
4. Soft Lures
Soft lures are designed to resemble natural bait like maggots and earthworms, and they’re usually made from PVC and other soft plastics. These can be very harmful to the environment and toxic to animals that eat them.
Anglers looking for biodegradable materials will be happy to know that some soft lures will dissolve in an hour or so.
While we can’t completely eliminate the impact that boating and fishing have on the environment, we can help significantly by using biodegradable gear where possible and by being intentional on the water.
If tackle breaks, dispose of it properly. Keep food wrappers and other litter inside the boat or on the shore. And consider upgrading your boat hardware so ladders, rods, and bimini tops don’t wind up in the water.