SA’s Catchgreen innovating biodegradable alternative for fishing gear
Project partners in Sweden, Norway, South Africa and Kenya
AGAINST the backdrop of green and sustainable solutions in the blue economy, Catchgreen, a cross-sector collaborative research project that aims to address ghost fishing by innovating a biodegradable alternative for fishing gear. Catchgreen covers the entire fishing gear production chain, from the development of a brand-new biodegradable compound for ocean use, filaments manufacturing, and testing, to piloting in real-life ocean conditions and prototype development through various project partners in Sweden, Norway, South Africa and Kenya.
If lost or dumped, Catchgreen fishing gear will disintegrate into biomass without any toxins or microplastics. Each prototype is designed to match the performance of the conventional fishing gear. Further, biodegradable fishing gear is a solution to the stockpiling of plastics on land, as old and discharged biodegradable fishing gear can be collected and composted into high-quality compost for soil enrichment.
Catchgreen conducted its first manufacturing trials in June at Alnet, Cape Town, and were conducted together with partners GAIA, FishSA, and Kompost-It. Present at these trials were also representatives from research and piloting organizations Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), I&J, Coastal Cape Kelp, Green House, and funders from the Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution Programme (SMEP).
The manufacturing process, a balance between strength and flexibility
The core objective of the manufacturing trial was to understand the process of the developed biopolymer, particularly its behaviour under varied settings (temperature, pressure, processing speed) as well as its functionality. Achieving optimal behavioural limits of the material at its first manufacturing phase meant stretching the boundaries of the measured parameters for practical understanding and improvement of future manufacturing and processing. A certain level of difficulty (technical glitches, material wastage) in doing this was thus an inevitable outcome as experienced on the first day of the trial.
The second day was more successful with adjusted settings, which made it possible to produce ropes for specific applications in the first set of planned piloting. Piloting will be conducted in the next six months to test the following applications: Overall, this first process was a success and all partners agreed it was indeed an impressive first manufacturing trial. They were also pleased to be part of a project that makes a difference in the green transformation discourse in the blue economy.
Piloting will take place in real-life conditions in South Africa and Kenya to confirm the suitability and efficiency of biodegradable ropes and nets.
Key facts about Biodolomer®Ocean
- Biodolomer®Ocean is a mix of PBS (polybutylene succinate) and PBAT (polybutylene adipate terephthalate).
- Biodolomer®Ocean is manufactured in recognisable orange and turquoise to distinguish from traditional fishing gear.
- Biodolomer®Ocean is designed for monoextrusion and the spinning of thread.
- Biodolomer®Ocean will be used to manufacture various types of ropes and nets for the fishing and aquaculture industries.