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Canada is advocating the advancement of this initiative internationally by endorsing that other like-minded states sign on to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, encouraging adherence to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) gear marking guidelines, and participating in regional fisheries bodies.
Commitments and initiatives
During Canada’s G7 presidency in 2018, our domestic and international commitments to address marine litter, including abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), were strengthened by launching the Ocean Plastics Charter and the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities
Canada’s domestic and international commitments to address ALDFG were strengthened by signing on to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative in 2018, and by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joining the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy in 2020.
In 2018, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment introduced the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste (Phase 1) to support implementation of the Ocean Plastics Charter and Charlevoix Blueprint. The Strategy promotes initiatives to implement a circular economy approach to plastics, including action to reduce plastic pollution in aquatic ecosystems. The Canada-Wide Action Plan on Zero Plastic Waste (Phase 2) was published in 2020 and includes specific commitments to reduce plastic waste and pollution generated by aquatic activities, including ALDFG.
In 2019, Environment and Climate Change Canada led the Federal Leadership Toward Zero Plastic Waste Initiative to support implementation of the Zero Plastic Waste Strategy. As part of this initiative, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) created the Canadian Ghost Gear Program, including the Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Support Contribution Program, which provides financial support to assist Indigenous groups, fish harvesters, the aquaculture industry, non-profits organizations and communities, to take concrete actions to support ghost gear prevention, retrieval and responsible disposal. It will also support fish harvesters to acquire new gear technologies to reduce gear loss.
The department has resources and funding opportunities to support innovations, business ideas, projects, and research related to plastic waste. Through Innovative Solutions Canada challenges, the Government invites small and medium-sized enterprises to propose innovations that address specific challenges. As a part of this program, Environment and Climate Change Canada has launched the Canadian Plastics Innovation Challenges, to support the development of Canadian-made clean technologies to achieve Canada’s vision of a zero plastic waste future.
Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO)
Canada supports efforts at Regional Fisheries Management Organizations to prevent lost fishing gear and address its retrieval, with a view to reducing the prevalence of ghost gear in international waters. Of interest to Canada, the following RFMOs contain specific provisions in some of their conservation and management measures to help address the issue:
- Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
- Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)
- North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)
- Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)
- North Pacific Fisheries Commission (NPFC)
- International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC)
- International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT)
These RFMOs strive to promote better marking of fishing gear used in their convention areas, and/or aim to provide clear guidelines on lost gear retrieval to minimize marine litter.
- Global Ghost Gear Initiative
- Arctic Council - Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group
- High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – Committee on Fisheries
- International Maritime Organization of the United Nations - Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) (imo.org)
- United Nations Environment Programme - Global Partnership on Marine Litter
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