WA invention aims to help protect our marine environment

An innovative WA product is set to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our oceans.

Recfishwest, in partnership with Mendolia Seafoods, has developed biodegradable bait boxes filled with fish waste to be used as fish burley or lobster baits.

Unlike other bait boxes, the new boxes have no plastic lining nor internal plastic bag to contain the frozen bait.

The bait product itself is made from local fish waste, like sardine by-products, and will result in less fish waste heading to landfill. The new packaging means there is no need to take plastic bags out when fishing.

The product is an environmentally-friendly alternative for some 140,000 Western Australians who fish from a boat each year.

Research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation released in 2016 predicted by 2050 there would be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans.

Prior to the introduction of the plastic bag ban on July 1, 2018, Western Australians used more than 670 million plastic bags a year, with about seven million ending up in the environment as litter.

"With predictions that there is likely to be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans by 2050, we need to be doing everything we can to reduce our use of plastic,” Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said.

"This new biodegradable fishing option has the potential to reduce hundreds of thousands of plastic bait bags coming into contact with our aquatic environment.

"Each year Western Australians make about 400,000 boat trips for recreational fishing. If these fishers think about reducing plastic bag use for bait or opt to buy one of these plastic-free bricks, there is the potential to significantly reduce the amount of plastic on board boats. 

"Fishers can either place the bait box filled directly into the bait basket of a lobster pot or use the contents of the box as fish burley.  

"An added bonus of this WA product is that it uses WA fish waste, which could help minimise biosecurity concerns surrounding current international and national bait products.

"I congratulate Recfishwest and Mendolia Seafoods for developing this positive new product."

The bait boxes will be available from selected retail outlets.