Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Three projects on the North Coast awarded funding

A blend of conservation groups and professional fishing organizations will share in a $8.3-million federal fund to help rid the coastal waters of so-called ghost gear, lost or abandoned equipment considered to be the world’s largest contributor to marine litter.

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight, posing dangers to whales and turtles, the coastal environment and global fishing stocks.

To combat the problem Fisheries and Oceans Canada opened the Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Support Contribution Program, or Ghost Gear Fund, last February and on Wednesday (July 8) released a list of the 26 project recipients, including three on the North Coast.

READ MORE: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

“The overwhelming interest in the Ghost Gear Fund demonstrates that Canadians share this priority and want to be a part of the solution,” Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said in a statement.

“The recipients of the fund will make a significant difference domestically, and internationally, as they remove ghost fishing gear from the oceans, recycle or dispose of it responsibly. Most importantly, they are creating tangible solutions to help prevent more plastic from entering our waters in the future.”

The fund will go to 22 projects in Canada, including 10 provincially, and four projects internationally over the next two years.

Each project falls into at least one category of gear retrieval, responsible disposal, acquisition and piloting of available gear technology, or international leadership.

In the north, Ecotrust Canada is leading a project with the Area A Crab Association to coordinate enhanced gear recovery efforts in the Hecate Strait through an electronic monitoring system. Each year the Area A fleet funds and conducts its own crab trap recovery during the seasonal closure, but for the two-year project survey an additional vessel, or an additional trip, will be used to target stray gear and explore the economic impacts of gear loss to harvesters.

The survey will also give researchers a better understanding of how much crab resource is lost to abandoned traps.

“For the past nine years, Ecotrust Canada has been working with fish harvesters on the North Coast to improve fisheries monitoring, observing, and data collection. Through [this] project we will continue to find ways to build a more sustainable and economically viable fishery,” Racheal Weymer, fisheries director at Ecotrust Canada said.

Natural Resources Consultants is leading two projects with a singular goal in the Hecate Strait and in Queen Charlotte Sound. The organization will conduct five activities, including the feasibility of a rapid response and retrieval program to reduce harm from newly-lost fishing nets in B.C., training divers to remove ghost gear and identifying hotspot areas of fishing gear loss.

The organization has set a goal of removing either 10 derelict nets or up to 250 abandoned traps during the course of research.

READ MORE: Canada signs global pact to help rid world’s oceans of abandoned fishing gear

The Ghost Gear Fund stems from the government’s target of protecting 25 per cent of the Canada’s oceans by 2025.

In 2018 Canada was the 13th nation to join World Animal Protection’s Global Ghost Gear Initiative, an international alliance of nations, companies, and environment groups.

The government noted at the time fishing gear is a far bigger issue to the ocean garbage problem than plastic straws, water bottles and grocery bags, but often flies under the radar as governments and environment groups focus on single-use plastics that will get more attention from businesses and consumers.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The River Forecast Centre is maintaining a flood watch for the area, including the Bella Coola River and tributaries, Kingcome River, Owikeeno-Rivers Inlet, and surrounding areas.
Wuikinuxv under evacuation order, more rain in forecast

Bella Coola’s Hill has re-opened but road conditions are muddy and wet

One person was killed in a two-vehicle crash south of Williams Lake on Highway 97 Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. (Photo submitted)
Highway 97 crash south of Williams Lake claims one life

Road conditions at the time were slippery and covered with slush: RCMP

Highway 20 is closed from the top Avalanche gate to the bottom Avalanche gate as of 19:30 on Tuesday October 27, 2020 (WL Tribune photo)
Rockslide closes the Hill as rain pours down in Bella Coola

Bad weather has resulted in rockfall on the Hill on Highway 20

The River Forecast Centre is issuing a Flood Watch for the Central Coast including Bella Coola River (file photo)
Flood watch issued for Bella Coola River

The River Forecast Centre is issuing a Flood Watch for the Bella Coola River

Two of the three grizzly cubs that were relocated to Smithers after their mother was killed (Caitlin Thompson photo)
Bella Coola residents urged to secure attractants after two sow grizzlies killed

One sow was a mother to three cubs of the year, which have been transported to Smithers

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Most Read