This paper presents a comparative study of mechanical properties of biodegradable PBSAT (polybutylene succinate co-adipate-co-terephthalate) and conventional polyamide (PA) gillnets used in Norwegian fisheries. Field tests were performed to simulate abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear. Changes in mechanical properties of PBSAT and PA nets in two Norwegian coastal environments were studied. Samples of biodegradable PBSAT gillnets and PA gillnets were placed inside modified lobster pots at four different locations: two outside the island Hitra in the middle of Norway and two outside Tromsø in the north of Norway. For each pot, seawater temperature was logged each hour, and net samples were retrieved for analyses at 3 to 9 months intervals.
Tensile strength testing was performed to determine and compare mechanical properties of biodegradable and PA monofilaments and gillnets. Comparative analyses were conducted, aimed at investigating the different behaviors of biodegradable material and conventional PA material, and the possible influence of seawater temperature on the degradation process of biodegradable PBSAT gillnets. Reduced tensile strength and elongation at break, and a slight increase in stiffness was observed for both PA and PBSAT monofilaments after the field trial at Hitra, indicating degradation of both polymer materials. After 25 months immersion in seawater, the PBSAT gillnets exhibited a significant reduction of tensile strength due to seawater exposure (35%), and the tensile strength of PBSAT gillnets was then 26% lower than the average strength of the PA net samples.