Switching to bioplastics may exacerbate ingestion of lost and discarded fishing gear by marine invertebrates

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Sandra Powell, Benjamin Mos 


Bioplastics are argued to be more environmentally sustainable than conventional plastics. Yet, little is known about how bioplastics degrade in marine environments or their likelihood of being ingested by animals. We measured changes in the weight of biodegradable, semi-biodegradable, and non-biodegradable fishing gears (soft plastic lures, SPLs) in or out of seawater over 14 days. We then exposed new and preconditioned SPLs to soldier crabs Mictyris longicarpus and green paddle worms Phyllodoce novaehollandiae. Biodegradable SPLs gained or lost up to 70% of their weight, likely due to changes in water content, but there was little change in nonbiodegradable and semi-biodegradable SPLs. Both animals ingested biodegradable SPLs, but not non-biodegradable SPLs. Crabs also ingested semi-biodegradable SPLs. Biodegradable SPLs shed up to 8 times more glitter microplastics when crabs were present than absent. Switching from conventional plastics to bioplastics may make lost/discarded fishing gear more likely to be ingested by marine invertebrates.




Animal Experimentation and Research, Biology, Environmental Health Life Sciences, Life Sciences, Marine Biology, Natural Resources and Conservation, Sustainability


Plastic pollution, biodegradable, degradation, soft plastic lure, Mictyris longicarpus, Phyllodoce novaehollandiae, biodegradable, degradation, soft plastic lure, Mictyris longicarpus, Phyllodoce novaehollandiae


Published: 2024-01-09 03:34

Last Updated: 2024-01-10 00:47

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Conflict of interest statement:
Benjamin Mos declares funding support from the Australian Research Council. Sandra Powell declares that she has no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.