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Ghost Gear Fund application guidelines

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The Ghost Gear Fund encourages Canadians to take actions to reduce plastic in the marine environment through several streams of action. To date, these have included projects to retrieve abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) during closed fishing times, solutions for the disposal of fishing related plastic waste and ALDFG, acquiring and piloting of currently available innovative gear technology for use in Canadian fisheries, and supporting international work in high-risk areas to reduce ghost fishing and ALDFG.

The recent effects of Hurricane Fiona have resulted in catastrophic loss for people in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. While measures were taken to prepare for the storm, there was still a large volume of fishing gear lost and damage done to storage facilities and Small Craft Harbours. The Ghost Gear Fund is focusing funding on projects in this area of Canada as a means of supporting retrieval efforts, supporting the recycling and proper disposal of fishing gear that was damaged or lost as a result of the storm, and supporting the acquisition of sustainable fishing gear that will prevent or reduce the occurrence of losses in the future.

Who can apply

Eligible recipients under the Ghost Gear Fund include:

  • Not-for-profit and charitable organizations, Canadian or International;
  • Companies, businesses, organizations, associations, Canadian or International;
  • Indigenous organizations/communities*;
  • Recognized research, academic, and educational institutions;
  • Other levels of government and their agencies or crown corporations; and
  • Canadian individuals.

Indigenous organizations/communities include:

  • First Nations/ Inuit/ Métis;
  • Bands/Settlements (land, reserves, trusts);
  • Indigenous governments referred to in a self-government or modern treaty;
  • Indigenous communities or groups;
  • District Councils/Chiefs’ Councils/ Tribal Councils;
  • Organizations/ Societies/ Associations/ Institutions that are Indigenous led and/or serve an Indigenous population); and,
  • Corporations (major shareholder is Indigenous).

Eligible activities

Eligible activities under the program will be considered from applicants active in, or proposing work associated with research, development, management, conservation, harvesting, protection or promotion of fisheries and oceans resources and related issues. These include activities aimed at improving fisheries management and sustainability, preventing and mitigating marine litter, and activities designed to prevent and mitigate ghost fishing and the occurrence of abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG).

Proposed activities must align with one or more of the following three pillars:

  • Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) retrieval*;
  • Responsible disposal; and
  • Acquisition and piloting of currently available innovative gear technology.

*ALDFG Retrieval programs are required to take place outside of active fishing seasons.

The funding program supports a range of activities to support the improvement of fisheries management and sustainability and the prevention and mitigation of marine litter. Eligible activities are as follows:

  • Training, skills development;
  • Collaborative planning, consultation and engagement – bilateral / multilateral / aggregate;
  • Public and community outreach, education, capacity building and engagement;
  • Project monitoring and evaluation activities;
  • Policy analysis, development and input;
  • Piloting and/or adoption of innovative technology & processes for existing fisheries;
  • Piloting and/or adoption of sustainable fishing and ALDFG mitigating practices (e.g. Harvesting or gear retrieval techniques, protocols, “Fishing for Litter” programming, etc.);
  • Improving the administration and management of marine and freshwater habitats
  • Supporting and building capacity for ALDFG retrieval efforts of marine and freshwater habitat;
  • Developing, promoting and supporting sustainable fishing practices that will reduce lost gear; and,
  • Building capacity to receive, store, remove and dispose/recycle of collected ALDFG; and marine litter in harbours (e.g. containment systems, etc.).

Activities not listed are ineligible for funding through the Ghost Gear Fund.

Project funding

As was the case in previous rounds of funding, the amount successful projects will receive is varied and will depend on proposed project activities, expenses and expected contributions to the objectives of the program. Projects do not have a limit above the total monetary value allocated for the program, however, typical Ghost Gear Fund support can be expected in the range of $50,000 to $1 million. There is up to a total of $28.4M available through this call for proposals.

Details on projects funded to date: Funded projects.

Eligible expenses

Eligible costs include reasonable and properly itemized costs, directly related to the eligible program activities, for:

  • Salaries, wages, and other labour expenses including benefits and insurance;
  • Professional, contracted and technical services (includes travel costs);
  • Costs associated with recycling and/or disposal of marine litter and/or ALDFG;
  • Commercial general liability insurance, related to project activities;
  • Building, construction, and or other associated infrastructure cost;
  • Printing, production and publishing;
  • Procurement;
  • Conferences and meetings as per the Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures;
  • Travel and related expenditures based on the National Joint Travel Directive;
  • Office lease or rent, associated with approved activities;
  • Training and expenses;
  • Purchase/rental/lease of equipment, vessels, vehicles, supplies and materials ;
  • Communications and distribution;
  • Consumable equipment and supplies used during approved activities;
  • Maintenance and life-cycle management;
  • Electronic equipment and software;
  • Costs incurred in carrying out an Audit in association with the agreement;
  • Monitoring and reporting;
  • Administrative overhead (e.g. phone, fax, internet, bank fees, utilities, office supplies); to a maximum of 15% of total project costs;
  • GST or HST paid that is not eligible for reimbursement or exemption; and,
  • Other costs that directly support improving fisheries management and sustainability with an emphasis on prevention and mitigation of marine litter, particularly abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear, domestically and abroad, pre-approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada not to exceed 10% of total eligible costs.

Application process

Due to Government of Canada policy, communication with applicants regarding proposal status during the project review and selection phase is prohibited until the final administrative approvals have been granted. All eligible applicants will receive an email confirmation noting receipt of application, official funding decision notification letter, and negotiation of funding agreements will follow with successful applicants. The program is unable to reimburse applicants for any expenses incurred prior to the official notification.

Proposals must meet all of the program’s requirements to be considered for funding. Project proposals must be submitted to by January 6, 2023, by 23:59 PST to be considered. The submission of a proposal does not guarantee funding.

Evaluation process

Completed applications will be reviewed upon submission and notification letters will be distributed to applicants by the end of February 2023. Evaluation of proposals will only begin once all required documentation has been submitted. Incomplete proposals will not be considered for funding.

Proposals will be reviewed to make sure they meet eligibility and other requirements for funding. This evaluation includes assessing that:

  • the applicant is eligible to receive funding;
  • the geographic location of the work being proposed is within Atlantic Canada and Quebec;
  • the eligibility of the proposed activities;
  • the proposal clearly addresses the program objective and indicates how the activities are in response to the effects of Hurricane Fiona;
  • the overall quality and feasibility of the proposed project.

Those proposals that meet the program’s requirements and are approved for funding will be contacted to begin drafting a funding agreement. Please note that meeting all requirements for funding does not guarantee funding; projects will be selected based on eligibility, and anticipated benefits of the project.

Selection criteria

This specific funding provides an opportunity to focus on three pillars of action to support ALDFG prevention and the retrieval and responsible disposal of ALDFG, as well as to support acquisition and piloting of innovative gear technology.

To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate that they are an eligible recipient of funding and that the project they are proposing falls within the acceptable eligible activities.

Note that a preference will be given to projects that:

  • reduces the threat of ghost fishing;
  • clearly demonstrate Indigenous leadership or partnership in their planning, development, and/or implementation;
  • encourage the development and promotion of sustainable fishing practices;
  • promote public and industry outreach and education;
  • support partnerships, relationship building, and the establishment of opportunities for continued collaboration, information and knowledge sharing to support recovery actions beyond the 2 years for which funding is available; and
  • build capacity to receive, store and dispose/recycle collected ALDFG and other fisheries related marine litter in harbours.

DFO will assess all projects based on:

  • the geographic area of the work proposed;
  • the expected benefits to the program pillar(s) to which the project proposes to address as detailed in the relevant application sections;
  • clearly articulated and detailed work plans;
  • reasonable and detailed proposal for costs;
  • the experience of the project team, including details of partners involved in the work;
  • proposed methods for reaching the objectives of the project and a clear plan for assessing and measuring success; and,
  • the potential for ongoing actions beyond the timeframe of the project.

The maximum funding per project for the Ghost Gear Fund is $10 million. The preferred range of project funding is between $50,000 and $1 million. However, applicants are welcomed to submit project proposals outside of the preferred range for funding.

For each pillar, key actions or activities have also been identified that are intended to support progress in each priority area. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and proposals that demonstrate they meet the programs eligibility may be funded that do not fall within the actions and activities listed below.

Program pillars

Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) Retrieval

Priority actions or activities: DFO is seeking to fund measures or activities to assist in the retrieval of ALDFG, such as the following:

  • Directed retrieval operations during closed fishing seasons. Specifically, the department is focused on supporting retrieval efforts in areas affected by the path of Hurricane Fiona
  • Activities that reduce threats to listed Species at Risk, for example in the Gulf of St. Lawrence which is a known habitat for North Atlantic right whales
  • Identification and documentation of areas with a higher potential for, or occurrence of ALDFG
  • ALDFG retrieval training


Priority actions or activities: DFO is seeking to fund measures or activities related to the responsible disposal of ALDFG and end-of-life fishing gear, such as the following:

  • Projects that prepare retrieved gear for recycling (cleaning, separating, coordinate shipping, etc.)
  • Projects focused on increased capacity for the recycling of rope
  • Identification of available techniques and technology for the proper disposal of ALDFG with a focus on recycling and reduction of waste
  • Research and analysis on current disposal operations and recommendations for improvements
  • Development of policies and protocols for responsible disposal of ALDFG and end-of-life fishing gear
  • Development of waste management solutions for domestic fishing operations
  • Identification of recycling network for ALDFG
  • Increase coastal communities’ capacity for fishing related marine litter and ALDFG disposal at ports of reception
  • Education and outreach to industry, Indigenous communities, operators and the public on the importance of proper end-of-life fishing gear disposal

Gear Acquisition and Innovative Technologies

Priority actions or activities: DFO is seeking to fund measures or activities to assist in the acquisition of fishing gear or gear retrieval technology, as well as the piloting of innovative fishing gear or gear retrieval technology such as the following:

  • Gear retrieval and/or gear tracking technology
  • Piloting of readily available gear in Canadian fisheries
  • Research on alternative gear in use in other jurisdictions and potential for use in Canadian fisheries
  • Training for the use of technologies (ROV, side scan sonar, electronic marking etc.)


For additional information on the funding program please e-mail:

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