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Sustainable Fisheries Solutions & Retrieval Support Contribution Program (SFSRSCP, or Ghost Gear Fund)

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Update

The Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Support Contribution Program (SFSRSCP or Ghost Gear Fund) second call for proposals is now closed.

Information on the program parameters, application process, and eligibility is available below.

Priority areas

Following the success of year one of the Ghost Gear Fund, there are several areas where we would like to focus attention to ensure a well-rounded, robust ghost gear program. As with the first call for proposals in 2020, all applications reflecting the four program pillars are welcome. However, the program would like to highlight several areas of priority for funding new projects. These areas of focus include:

Expanding responsible disposal capacity

Year one of the Ghost Gear Fund saw the removal of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) from Canadian waters, reducing the threat to fish stocks, marine mammals, ecosystems and navigation. With this increase in retrieved gear comes a greater need for responsible disposal opportunities on land.  Applicants are encouraged to propose projects that would examine methods of improving disposal and recycling of ALDFG and end-of-life fishing gear. This could involve (but is not limited to):

  • A study to determine the balance between the fishing gear produced (and/or purchased for use in Atlantic Canada) and of that disposed of annually in Atlantic Canada
  • Potential areas for responsible disposal capacity expansion across the country (the expansion of established recycling networks on Canada’s Pacific Coast, or preliminary feasibility studies of similar networks on Canada’s Atlantic Coast)
  • Identification of knowledge gaps in responsible disposal and recycling capacity
  • Outreach and education on best-practices or frameworks to target areas where there is limited responsible disposal opportunities
  • Regional end-of-life disposal initiatives (e.g. targeted, temporary take-it-back programs for end-of-life fishing gear (traps, pots, netting, rope, etc.)) with a focus on reducing stockpiles of gear and ensuring responsible disposal

Increased retrieval efforts in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

The Ghost Gear Fund had many successful ALDFG retrieval projects funded through the first call for proposals of the program. We would like to continue to support such endeavors, and specifically would like to focus retrieval efforts in the Gulf of St. Lawrence through this call for proposals. In recent years, the Gulf of St. Lawrence has seen a marked increase in the occurrence of North Atlantic right whales in the spring, summer and autumn months. The Ghost Gear Fund is seeking proposals for coordinated and targeted ALDFG retrieval and responsible disposal outside of active fishing seasons within this region.

Of specific focus is:

  • The retrieval of ALDFG from known areas of high gear loss
  • The retrieval of ALDFG from higher risk areas for interactions between North Atlantic right whales and fishing gear
  • Projects led by fisheries associations and/or a coordinated approach by fish harvesters with experience and knowledge of the retrieval area

The Fraser River

The Fraser River in British Columbia is an important habitat for at-risk fish species, including salmon. Efforts have been made to address the occurrence of abandoned gillnets, which have been observed along the Fraser River in recent years. These nets are considered as one of the highest risk for ghost fishing and pose a great risk to salmon, along with other species in the River. The program is seeking proposed projects that focus on gear identification and retrieval efforts in the Fraser River to support the protection of iconic salmon and other important Pacific fish stocks.

Program overview

The Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Support Contribution Program (SFSRSCP or Ghost Gear Fund) is a federally funded program led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which is intended to support Canada’s commitment to preventing and mitigating the risk of ghost fishing and encouraging the development of sustainable fishing practices, particularly as it applies to abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) domestically and abroad. This work is being carried out as part of the Government of Canada’s broader commitments to support national and international efforts to reduce plastics in our oceans and the use of plastics in government operations, and to reduce the occurrence and effects of ghost gear around the world.

The initial round of funding saw $8.3 million in funding over 2 years (2020-2022) distributed to support 26 projects, which fall under four themes, or pillars of activities.

Purpose of the Contribution Program

The purpose of the Ghost Gear Fund is to encourage the sustainable management of Canada’s fisheries, Indigenous fisheries programs, aquaculture activities, and support commercial fishing harbours to take concrete actions to support ALDFG prevention, retrieval and responsible disposal. The Ghost Gear Fund will also support fish harvesters to acquire new gear technologies to reduce the occurrence of gear loss.

Program pillars

Approved projects will be funded based on activities under the following four pillars:

  • Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) retrieval*
  • Responsible disposal
  • Acquisition and piloting of currently available innovative technologies
  • International leadership

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

Eligibility

Eligible recipients must fall under one of the following categories where they contribute to research, development, management, conservation, harvesting, protection or promotion of fisheries and oceans resources;

  • Not-for-profit and charitable organizations, Canadian or International
  • Companies, businesses, organizations, associations, Canadian or International
  • Recognized research, academic, and educational institutions
  • Other levels of government and their agencies or Crown corporations
  • Canadian individuals

Timelines

Funding will be made available for projects from July 2021-March 31, 2022.

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