This paper presents a comparative study assessing the wear tolerance of rope materials in demersal fisheries, specifically seine ropes and dolly ropes. Fourteen different rope materials were assessed in this study, including conventional and alternative commercially available synthetic polymers, and biodegradable materials including natural fibre ropes and custom-made polyester monofilaments. The sample materials were subjected to controlled wear from a rotating abrasive drum. Tensile testing was performed to determine and compare mechanical properties of the samples before and after exposure to wear. A wear tolerance coefficient has been suggested, i.e. a comparative unit between the different rope material samples and a standard blended polyester/polyethylene rope material as reference.

The tested nylon ropes showed the lowest reduction in breaking strength post wear and thus the highest wear tolerance of all tested materials. Conventional and biodegradable polyester ropes and monofilaments also performed well compared to the standard reference rope.

The performed tests did not only consider the effect of different raw materials, but the combined effect of material and structural properties. A rope’s tolerance to wear may be affected not only by the mechanical properties of the raw material, but also fibre thickness and cross section, and rope thickness, structure and lay of rope.

This study demonstrated the potential of using biodegradable polymers with higher tolerance to wear than conventional non-degradable plastic materials as a circular solution to reduce microplastic pollution caused by demersal fisheries worldwide. Application of alternative commercially available ropes and hard-lay rope structures may increase the tolerance to wear and by that reduce plastic waste.

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