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Ghost Gear Fund

The Sustainable Fisheries Solutions & Retrieval Support Contribution Program, or Ghost Gear Fund, encourages Canadians to take actions to reduce plastic in the marine environment. Each year, more than eight million metric tons of plastic end up in the world's oceans. Lost, abandoned and derelict fishing nets and commercial fishing gear, known as ghost gear, as well as plastic waste from aquaculture, are major contributors to the plastic debris problem. Recent studies indicate that ghost fishing gear may make up to 70% of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight.

The Ghost Gear Fund will support 26 projects over two years (2020-2022). All projects fall under at least one of four themes, or pillars of activity:

Retrieval: These mark the approximate locations of gear retrieval projects. Click on the marker to learn more about the project.

Ghost gear retrieval

Retrieval projects will identify areas known to have high levels of reported lost fishing gear, and work to remove as much gear from the water as possible. Some retrieval projects will target clean-ups to areas that are known habitat for species at risk. Projects will also seek out areas where the reported lost gear will have a greater impact on the surrounding environment, such as gillnets, pots and traps. Other types of lost gear, including longlines, hook and line, trawls and seines will also be targeted for retrieval.

 

Disposal: These mark the approximate locations of gear disposal projects. Click on the marker to learn more about the project.

Responsible disposal

Disposal projects will work with relevant partners (ports, industry, etc.) to identify and facilitate measures or activities related to the responsible disposal and recycling of ghost gear and end-of-life fishing gear. To reduce the amount of fishing gear ending up in landfills, projects will include:

  • working with recycling and waste facilities
  • identifying transportation and storing options
  • coming up with creative solutions
 
Technology: These mark the approximate locations of gear technology projects. Click on the marker to learn more about the project.

Acquisition and piloting of available technology

These projects encourage the acquisition and/or piloting of market-ready technologies aimed at prevention, reduction, and retrieval of ghost gear. For the fishing industry, this includes:

  • opportunities to pilot market-ready technologies in Canadian fisheries to determine whether it allows for alternative solutions
  • address gaps in current gear used
  • limit impacts on the marine environment (including known habitat for species at risk)
  • whether it is an economically viable option for the industry
 
International leadership: These mark the approximate locations of international leadership projects. Click on the marker to learn more about the project.

International leadership

International projects involve working with a recognized international body or organization to help developing or small island states establish their own sustainable fisheries practices and programs to mitigate the impact of ghost gear. These projects must also fall into at least one of the other three Ghost Gear Fund pillars of activity (retrieval, disposal or technology), and help work towards long-term solutions in the regions where the work will be completed. International hotspots for ghost gear include the Caribbean, South Pacific, and West African coast.

 
Project descriptions
Recipients
Name Area of work Description Total funding for 2020-2022 Pillars of activity
The Ocean Legacy Foundation Powell River, BC  The Ocean Legacy Foundation is proud partners with the qathet Regional District and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. Two pilot collection programs were built in Tofino and Powell River, British Columbia, to manage select ghost gear resources in Pacific Canada. This support provides much needed critical infrastructure to capture plastic wastes, divert them from landfill, and responsibly recycle items to not only support innovative technologies but further implement pragmatic solutions to grow the Canadian plastic circular economy. So far, approximately 15,000kg of waste has been diverted from landfill.

*Ocean Legacy Foundation received a lump sum of $354,137.50 which was divided between 2 projects.
$354,137.50* Gear disposal
The Ocean Legacy Foundation Tofino, BC The Ocean Legacy Foundation is proud partners with the qathet Regional District and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. Two pilot collection programs were built in Tofino and Powell River, British Columbia, to manage select ghost gear resources in Pacific Canada. This support provides much needed critical infrastructure to capture plastic wastes, divert them from landfill and responsibly recycle items to not only support innovative technologies but further implement pragmatic solutions to grow the Canadian plastic circular economy. So far, approximately 15,000kg of waste has been diverted from landfill.

*Ocean Legacy Foundation received a lump sum of $354,137.50 which was divided between 2 projects.
$354,137.50* Gear disposal
Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association Nanaimo, BC The Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association, in conjunction with a fishery-independent at-sea observer company, developed a real time, at-sea, electronic data capture program for recording gear loss in the BC Commercial Prawn Fishery. The program incorporates the use of individual trap tags and can be linked to the electronic Vessel Monitoring System to ensure fishery-independent oversight. The data collected provides the precise locations and amount of gear loss which is the essential first step in ghost gear recovery. In 2020, a “push button” function for the electronic Vessel Monitoring Systems was developed and linked to individual trap tags, to ensure fishery-independent oversight in the recording and reporting of lost gear. $19,882.00 Gear technology
Emerald Sea Protection Society Salish Sea, BC The Emerald Sea Protection Society is a group of divers and scientists addressing the complex problem of ghost gear and other marine debris through research, underwater surveys, recovery, recycling (where possible), and education. This project is a collaborative initiative that works closely with fishing families, businesses, non-profits, and governments, to survey and recover abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear in coastal British Columbian waters. In 2020, Emerald Sea surveyed 80 sites and recovered gear from 3 field areas. Through these recovery missions, 3400kg of gear was retrieved, with a large percentage being high-risk nets.  $214,017.48 Gear retrieval
Gear technology
British Columbia Shellfish Growers Association Comox, BC There are currently 226 shellfish farms in British Columbia that use suspended culture techniques. Many of these farms have operated for decades. Over that time, culture materials (predator nets, ropes, trays etc.) have inevitably been lost to the seabed, where they can impact fish and fish habitat. This project provides funds to assist shellfish farmers with the cost of recovering subsurface debris and disposing of it responsibly. In 2020, British Columbia Shellfish Growers Association members undertook clean-ups of 15 suspended culture operations. In total, 15 tonnes of marine debris were removed and disposed of at recycling or landfill facilities. $350,000.00  Gear retrieval 
Ecotrust Canada Kunghit Island, BC Ecotrust Canada and the Area A Crab Association are coordinating expanded gear recovery efforts based on the annual gear clean ups that the Area A harvesters have self-funded for years. With collaboration from the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation and Natural Resources Consultants, information from various fish harvester associations, and hotspots modeling data are considered when planning retreival trips. Information collected during gear retrieval trips  is used to better understand the economic and stock implications of lost fishing gear. $157,114.97  Gear retrieval 
Natural Resources Consultants Salish Sea, BC Natural Resources Consultants is conducting five activities designed to create a baseline of capacity in British Columbia to locate and remove ghost gear, and to prevent harm from newly lost fishing nets. Natural Resources Consultants have developed a predictive model and identified areas of probable fishing gear loss and accumulation in British Columbia, which will be shared with other partners in British Columbia to inform future ghost gear retreival efforts. Additionally, Natural Resources Consultants and DiveSafe International have collaborated to integrate ALDFG retrieval training into DiveSafe International’s commercial diving training curriculum. In March 2021, a lesson on ALDFG retrieval was provided to 26 commercial diving students of DiveSafe International.

*Natural Resources Consultants received a lump sum of $292,297.90 which was divided between 3 projects.
$292,297.90* Gear retrieval
Gear technology
Natural Resources Consultants Haida Gwaii, BC Natural Resources Consultants is conducting five activities designed to create a baseline of capacity in British Columbia to locate and remove ghost gear, and to prevent harm from newly lost fishing nets. Activities include identifying the feasibility of a rapid response and retrieval program designed to reduce impacts of newly lost fishing nets in British Columbia; training divers to remove ghost gear; and identifying hotspot areas of fishing gear loss. Natrual Resource Consultants conducted eight days of ghost gear surveys with the goal of removing 10 derelict nets or up to 250 derelict pots from marine waters.

*Natural Resources Consultants received a lump sum of $292,297.90 which was divided between 3 projects.
$292,297.90* Gear retrieval
Gear technology
Natural Resources Consultants Queen Charlotte Sound, BC Natural Resources Consultants is conducting five activities designed to create a baseline of capacity in British Columbia to locate and remove ghost gear, and to prevent harm from newly lost fishing nets. Natural Resources Consultants have developed a predictive model and identified areas of probable fishing gear loss and accumulation in British Columbia, which will be shared with other partners in British Columbia. Natural Resources Consultants and DiveSafe International have collaborated on integrating ALDFG retrieval training into DiveSafe International’s commercial diving training curriculum. In March 2021, a lesson on ALDFG retrieval was provided to 26 commercial diving students of DiveSafe International.

*Natural Resources Consultants received a lump sum of $292,297.90 which was divided between 3 projects.
$292,297.90* Gear retrieval
Gear technology
T Buck Suzuki Foundation Vancouver, BC The T Buck Suzuki Foundation and Archipelago are working with British Columbia commercial fish harvesters and fishing associations to locate, retrieve, and prevent lost gear in 10 locations along the British Columbia coast. This project is identifying gear loss hotspots, developing best practices for gear management in British Columbia and engaging regional stakeholder communities. They are conducting a series of fishermen-led retrievals, determining the ecological impacts of lost gear, and identifying viable solutions for future gear loss. In 2020, T Buck engaged over 150 fishermen in hotspot identification and mapped lost gear across fisheries in the Pacific, they also identified 10 priority retrieval areas. $535,718.00  Gear retrieval 
Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie Chandler, QC Traditional wooden traps have, over time, been replaced by wire traps, making it difficult for lobster fishermen to dispose of them properly when they come to their end-of-life. The Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie (RPPSG) has set up a program for the collection and disposal of old wire traps to allow harvesters to dispose of them in a simple and eco-responsible manner. The old wire traps are being sorted and dismantled in order to recycle as much material as possible. So far, 6,096 lobster traps have been recovered and recycled from two collection periods, with 32 fishermen from across Gaspe involved in collection efforts.  $112,958.78 Gear disposal
Coopérative des Capitaines-Propriétaires de la Gaspésie Rivière-au-Renard, QC The Coopérative des Capitaines-Propriétaires de la Gaspésie (ACPG) project aims to recover lost fishing gear in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and dispose of it in an environmentally responsible manner. To accomplish this, the ACPG acquired a proven "Reid's Grapnel" grapple system. A bathymetric survey along with a visual scan by underwater camera was used to target areas of interest and a recovery plan was developed for Snow Crab Area 12 and Areas 4S and 4T. In 2020, 34 retrieval trips took place in CFA 12 and CFA 12A with 2400kg of gear retrieved. $415,240.00 Gear technology
Gear retrieval
Les Cultures du Large inc. Magdalen Islands, QC Les Cultures du Large is cleaning up two former aquaculture sites used for scallop harvesting, and restoring them to their natural state. Located 20 km off the coast of the Magdalen Islands, these unused sites contain more than a hundred two-hundred-metre-long lines that have been abandoned. Rearing lines and structures are being removed from aquaculture sites and responsible disposal of this material is being carried out by sorting for reuse or by disposal at the waste management centre. So far in 2020, 42 trips have been conducted with 75% of the sites cleaned, and removed 79 lines. A large portion of retrieved material is reusable and has been diverted from landfills.  $372,154.50  Gear retrieval 
Merinov Gaspé, QC This project is aimed at the responsible disposal of unused fishing gear through the development of a process to manage, recycle and recover materials. This multi-partner project is led by Merinov, and aims to develop a network that transports recovered fishing gear to triage centres, then maximizes the recycling preparation stages in order to remove the materials that can be integrated into existing recycling channels. An  analysis of collected fishing gear is being used to understand its material composition. Industry partners can use this information to determine types of products that can be made from the plastic residues.  $360,154.50  Gear disposal 
Fundy North Fisherman's Association St. Andrews, NB As the largest industry in Eastern Canada, the Canadian lobster fishery’s inability to recycle lobster traps results in significant volumes of Canadian fishing gear that is never recycled. By creating upcycling streams for end-of-life gear, we can divert lobster traps out of the fishing gear waste stream. In this project, Fundy North Fisherman's Association looks to expand the repurposing capacity and address the gap around responsible disposal by building recycling capacity to manage end-of-life lobster traps in southwestern New Brunswick. Industry outreach is currently underway to expand lobster trap recycling capacity.  $96,495.00  Gear disposal 
Maliseet Nation Conservation Council Bay of Fundy, NB This project focuses on using SCUBA and surface-supply diving as an effective ghost-gear recovery method in the Bay of Fundy. Ghost gear and other marine debris are a concern, now more than ever, due to the entanglement of North Atlantic right whales and other marine species in derelict fishing gear. Maliseet Nation Conservation Council is working with COJO Diving and the Marine Debris Strategic Action Committee to develop safe and effective methods for removing ghost gear from known locations using diving. During Fall 2020 eight diving trips were carried out, demonstrating the efficiency of using diving to clean up abandoned weir sites, which is not feasible using traditional retrieval methods.  $291,600.00  Gear retrieval
Gear disposal 
CSR GeoSurveys Ltd. Bay of Fundy, NS CSR GeoSurveys Ltd. was founded in 1985 and is an industry leader in the field of ocean mapping. Their project takes place in Lobster Fishing Areas 36-38, and focuses on the identification, retrieval and disposal of ghost fishing gear from challenging areas within the Bay of Fundy. In 2020 they accomplished 11 retrieval trips, and retreived over 4000kgs of marine debris including 173 lobster traps.  $392,862.70  Gear retrieval
Gear disposal 
CSR GeoSurveys Ltd. Northumberland Strait, NS CSR GeoSurveys Ltd. was founded in 1985 and is an industry leader in the field of ocean mapping. Their project takes place in Lobster Fishing Areas 26A, and focuses on the identification, retrieval and disposal of ghost fishing gear from challenging areas within the Northumberland Strait. They completed 16 retrieval trips in 2020 and removed 8 herring nets, 37 lobster traps, 10 large gillnets and 54kg of steel cable. $357,280.00  Gear retrieval
Gear disposal 
Coastal Action South Shore, NS This project is a collaboration between industry, academia, and government to prevent, reduce, and assess impacts of ghost gear on the South Shore of Nova Scotia (Lobster Fishing Areas 33, 34, and 35 in Nova Scotia only) from July 2020 to March 2022. They are implementing waste management systems for responsible disposal of end-of-life gear, retrieving ghost gear from priority areas, and conducting an impact assessment of ghost gear during retrieval. Coastal Action is also engaging in ongoing awareness campaigns throughout the project. In 2020 they accomplished 60 retrieval trips, removing nearly 9 tonnes of marine debris including 288 lobster traps and over 2000kg of miscellaneous gear.
$432,299.00  Gear retrieval
Gear disposal 
Eastern Nova Scotia Marine Stewardship Society Louisbourg, NS This project includes pilot studies of GPS-enabled smart buoy technology in the Maritimes, assessing its applicability across different fisheries and industries. Three fixed-gear wild-catch fisheries in the Maritimes have been identified as candidates for piloting the technology: lobster, snow crab, and whelk. In addition, the technology will be used to track gear at mussel and scallop aquaculture operations. So far, on-water testing and deployment of smart buoys have started at aquaculture sites.  $121,388.20 Gear technology
Cape Breton Fish Harvesters Association Cape Breton, NS This one-year project focuses on the removal of abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded gear in areas that have been highlighted as a concern by harvesters in Lobster Fishing Area 27. Working with the local fish harvesters within the Cape Breton Fish Harvesters Association, they have identified areas with problematic legacy gear and also identified areas where gear has been lost during previous lobster fishing seasons. Three retrieval trips were carried out in 2020, where they retreived 10 traps and released 45 bycatch lobsters.   $55,256.30  Gear retrieval
Gear technology 
Petty Harbour Fisherman’s Cooperative Petty Harbour, NL Using multiple vessels equipped with chart plotters, we Petty Harbour FIsherman's Cooperative did a grid search of the area from Cape St. Francis to Cape Pine. Using marine charts as guidance, they conducted grid searches for lost gear. This prooved an effective method as 16 retrievel trips that completed in summer 2020, removed over 5443kg of ghost gear. $389,741.85  Gear retrieval 
Fish, Food, and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-UNIFOR) St. John's, NL The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union have implemented a harvester-driven initiative to recover ghost gear across Newfoundland and Labrador. These efforts incorporate harvester expertise in gear re-use, port infrastructure, and effective gear retrieval measures in order to mitigate ghost fishing and build capacity for the responsible disposal of fishing gear across the province. Three retrieval efforts took place in 3 areas around the province, with 24 lobster pots retrieved in Placentia Bay.  $659,685.08  Gear retrieval
Gear disposal 
Fishing Gear Coalition of Atlantic Canada National Since forming in November 2018, the Fishing Gear Coalition of Atlantic Canada has been working collaboratively on preventing and recovering end-of-life gear, and abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing and aquaculture gear, and developed sustainable solutions to retrieve and recycle these materials. Building on this work, our project team, in partnership with Cleanfarms, has collaborated with key stakeholders and rights holders to implement a self-sustaining product stewardship program for end-of-life fishing gear across Eastern Canada. The Fishing Gear Coalition of Atlantic Canada has engaged with over 100 stakeholders to produce a comprehensive report on end-of-life gear management in Nova Scotia.  $352,500.00 Gear disposal
Ocean Conservancy (Global Ghost Gear Initiative®)  Vanuatu and Solomon Islands The Global Ghost Gear Initiative®, based at the Ocean Conservancy, has been working with partners in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands since 2017 to identify and implement sustainable strategies for preventing and recovering lost fishing gear in the region. This project aims to reduce ghost gear in the region by mapping and modelling regional hotspots to target for both gear retrieval and loss prevention activities. They are also testing new technologies for marking/tracking fishing gear to prevent loss. In 2020, hotpots for fishing nets were identified and mapped and a retrieval protocol was developed with local partners to reflect regional conditions.  $419,348.00  International leadership
Gear retrieval 
Ocean Conservancy (Global Ghost Gear Initiative®)  Washington, DC The Global Ghost Gear Initiative®, based at the Ocean Conservancy, is using this project to drive policy change on ghost gear at a global level by harnessing the collective power of governments and corporations through discussion and information-sharing. They will convene one roundtable for government representatives to address the need for coordinated action and science-based decision-making on ghost gear at the international level. A separate roundtable will focus on engaging the private sector to implement ghost gear guidelines. A webinar series was conducted with fisheries stakeholders in 2020 and planning for a virtual roundtable is underway for 2021.  $184,430.00  International leadership 
Stand Out For Environment Restoration Initiative Nigeria This project seeks to engage coastal communities in Nigeria to assist in the development and formulation of policies for the prevention and mitigation of ghost gear through stakeholders workshops and conferences. The Stand Out for Environment Restoration Initiative also works to improve livelihoods and create economic opportunities for fishing communities through craft workshops of end-of-life ghost gear. Finally, they have created an integrated ghost gear recovery program with a focus on offshore recovery, and installed end-of-life gear recovery centers for collection, sorting, and analysis of retrieved ghost gear. In 2020, 2 workshops with over 150 attendees were conducted and a waste disposal facility for marine waste was set up in Lagos, Nigeria.  $250,000.00  International leadership
Gear retrieval 
Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Caribbean Sea This project represents a partnership between the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative with the overall goal of reducing fishing gear loss and the impacts of ghost gear in the Caribbean Sea. The project provides capacity building and knowledge/technology transfer to the artisanal fishing community and other marine resource users in the Caribbean. This is achieved through supporting fishers harvesters in their efforts to reduce ghost gear, developing a regional Caribbean Fisheries Management and ghost gear action plan, and extending baseline analysis and hotspot mapping in the Caribbean. The Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute has developed a framework for including Caribbean artisanal fish harvesters in developing solutions for ALDFG including organizing a regional workshop, which aims to identify approaches that have the highest likelihood of success. $181,000.00  International leadership
Gear disposal 
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