Ghost Gear Fund supported projects
The 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. Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), 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.
- Ghost Gear Fund Projects 2020-2022
- Ghost Gear Fund Projects 2022-2023
- Ghost Gear Fund Projects 2023-2024
- Ghost Gear Fund Projects 2022-2024 – Hurricane Fiona Response
All projects fall under at least one of four pillars of activity:
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 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
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 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.
2023-2024 Project descriptions
|Area of work
|Total funding for 2023-2024
|Pillars of activity
|Association des Pêcheurs Professionnels Crabiers Acadiens, Inc. (APPCA)
|The main goal of this project is to retrieve ghost gear in Crab Fishing Area 12, which was directly hit by Hurricane Fiona. APPCA will use innovative technologies, responsibly disposing of retrieved lost gear while reducing the risks of ghost gear on the marine ecosystem such as their interactions with the North Atlantic right whales.
|Association of Inshore Fishermen of Magdalen Islands
|Magdalen Islands, QC
|The main focus of this project is to retrieve abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear. Local participants will use both their knowledge of the field and firsthand information to map out the fishing areas. Gear that has been retrieved will either be returned to the owner if tagged and reusable, redistributed to other fishermen to reuse if untagged but in useable condition, or discarded of properly.
|Bear River First Nation
|Annapolis Basin, NS
|This project involves the retrieval of lost gear in the Annapolis Basin, with fish harvesters and harbor authorities leveraging local knowledge to identify potential hotspots. A side scan sonar will be used to search the Basin. Locations will be marked and retrieved with a dive team. As stewards of its territorial lands and waters, Bear River First Nation's ultimate goal is to ensure the environmental sustainability of the region for the benefit of all future generations
|Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation (Coastal Action)
|Gulf of St. Lawrence, NB, Northern NS, Southwest NS, and shoreline cleanups in NS, PEI, and NL.
|Coastal Action will be completing at-sea retrieval efforts in Prince Edward Island, Southwest Newfoundland, Cape Breton, and Lobster Bay in Nova Scotia. Shoreline cleanups will also be conducted in areas with high concentrations of ghost gear. This will be accomplished through partnerships with the fishing industry, other environmental groups, and community engagement. Coastal Action will also strive to promote responsible end-of-life gear opportunities and expand recycling options for rope and other gear in Atlantic Canada.
|Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation
|Southwest coast of Newfoundland - Rose Blanche-Harbour le Cou to Burgeo.
North of the SW coast in Gros Morne- Trout River, Wild Cove in Norris Point, Rocky Harbour, Green Point, and Cow Head
|The Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation is partnering with the Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative, Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University, Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, Burgeo Harbour Authority, and a team of local harvesters. This project targets fishing gear from traditional offshore fishing grounds and corresponding inlets and shorelines and will involve leading-edge fishing gear recycling companies. Through the use of innovative imagery technology, fishing gear will be identified on the seabed and appropriately mapped for retrieval and future reference data.
|Cape Breton Fish Harvesters Association
|Cape Breton, NS
|The Cape Breton Fish Harvesters Association (CBFHA) will focus on the removal of ghost gear in Lobster Fishing Area 27, specifically in areas of high concern due to the destruction of Hurricane Fiona. After the hurricane, CBFHA members contacted the association with reports of the destruction of their wharves and boats, along with their fishing gear being lost. CBFHA will work alongside fish harvesters to combat the issue of ghost gear from the destruction of the hurricane, as well as gear left behind from the 2023 fishing season.
|Centre de recherche sur les milieux insulaires et maritimes (CERMIM)
|CFA 12, 12 F, 19
Baie de Plaisance aux Îles-de-la-Madeleine
|The CERMIM team and its partners will carry out the LOREVA 2023 project. This is the third edition of the initiative to locate, recover and reclaim lost crab traps off the Magdalen Islands, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, following the passage of Hurricane Fiona. The team will recover the ghost gear using a technique developed with a remote-controlled underwater robot.
|Coastal Restoration Society
|In collaboration with First Nations and commercial fishing industry partners, Coastal Restoration Society has co-developed this project to support shared priorities around the retrieval and responsible disposal of ghost gear from Indigenous territorial waters in Atlantic Canada. This project aims to provide opportunities for local partners and Indigenous communities in ghost gear surveying and retrieval, environmental monitoring, remotely operated vessels, and side-scan sonar operations.
|Comité ZIP Côte-Nord du Golfe
|Mingan et Sept-Îles, Québec
|The project consists of the identification and recovery of lost fishing gear in the coastal waters of Sept-Îles and Mingan, using side scan sonar and remotely operated vessels, and improving the recovery, dismantling and circular economy capacities for ghost gear. We will continue to consult with the community and implement a three-year strategic plan by working with the committee on the recovery and disposal of ghost fishing gear on the North Shore.
|Comité ZIP des Îles-de-la-Madeleine
|LFA 22, CFA 12 and Magdalen Islands Lagoon Marine Sanctuary
|The project will locate ghost gear with a geolocated underwater camera and then retrieve the gear from areas of high ecological value within LFA 22 in the Magdalen Islands, as well as locate ghost gear using side-scan sonar technology in the area's lagoons and bays. Gear will be retrieved using certified divers. With the participation of local fishers and aquaculture operators, areas associated with a high rate of gear loss were identified in order to focus recovery efforts. The recovered gear will be returned to their respective owners or dismantled to ensure their various components are recycled or repurposed through the local chains of waste management.
|Coopérative des Capitaines-Propriétaires de la Gaspésie ACPG
|CFA 12, 12A, 12B, 16 and 17
|The goal of this project is to contribute to the recovery of ghost gear lost in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in commercial snow crab fishing areas hit by Hurricane Fiona. The Coopérative des Capitaines-Propriétaires de la Gaspésie (ACPG) has been conducting ghost gear recovery campaigns since the summer of 2020.
|CSR GeoSurveys Ltd. (CSR)
|LFA 31A, 31B, 32, 33 and 34
|This project will locate and recover ghost gear in the parts of the Maritimes (LFA 31, 32, 33, 34) impacted by Hurricane Fiona. CSR will target lost lobster fishing equipment and lost gill nets while operating from ports in Nova Scotia. The project will use geophysical survey techniques to locate ghost gear in the marine environment, as well as conduct terrestrial clean-ups in areas where gear accumulated on shorelines. Any gear not returned to owners will be recycled through partnerships with Sustane Technologies Inc., FGCAC, and local metal recyclers.
|CSR GeoSurveys Ltd. (CSR)
|CFA 12, 12D, 12E and 12F
|This project will locate and recover lost crab fishing equipment in parts of the Gulf (CFA 12) impacted by Hurricane Fiona. CSR will utilize geophysical survey techniques to locate ghost gear. Retrieved gear will be brought to shore and transferred to DFO for return to owners. Any unusable gear will be recycled with minimal material going to landfills. CSR will also deploy whale monitoring equipment during the project to ensure that survey and retrieval operations do not interfere with marine mammal activity.
|Fish, Food, and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-UNIFOR)
|Southwest Coast of NL
La Poile- Rose Blanche and Fox Roost
NAFO in 3Pn, 3Ps and 4R
|The Fish, Food, and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) Ghost Gear Retrieval Project will rely on knowledge and expertise in gear retrieval operations through members and crew. This project will focus on areas affected by Hurricane Fiona, using a combination of underwater cameras and grapnel for retrieval. The project will also summarize available gear storage (temporary and permanent) and disposal options, and add to a database of existing options in Newfoundland.
|Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University (Marine Institute)
|Newfoundland: Kippens, Codroy, Isle aux Morts, Rose Blanche and La Poile
|A team with expertise from the Marine Institute will be conducting work in the areas affected by Hurricane Fiona. Community members will be engaged to determine where the most impacted locations are, then team members will be deployed to begin the mapping of the ocean floor to detect possible targets. A survey vessel will be sent out to conduct scans in advance of local fishing vessels hired to retrieve the targeted ghost gear. In partnership with the Fishing Gear Coalition of Atlantic Canada, the material will be collected where arrangements have been made to have it picked up and recycled.
|Fishing Gear Coalition of Atlantic
|The FGCAC End-of-life Fishing Gear Management Project in NS, NB, PEI, and Southwestern NL will expand the collection and recycling services of specific ghost gear, secure key partnerships, and report findings. This project will help reach more storm-affected regions and further limit the damage caused by the loss, abandonment, or mismanagement of fishing and aquaculture gear.
|Friends of McNabs Island Society
|McNabs Island and Lawlor Islands, NS
|The Friends of McNabs Island Society is a registered charity that has been cleaning up the beaches of McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park at the entrance to Halifax Harbour for three decades. 250 volunteers, including several youth groups, will travel to the islands to clean up ghost gear and related marine debris that litters the islands following hurricanes and winter storms. The garbage will be brought back to the mainland for proper disposal or recycling. This is a meaningful learning experience for the volunteers involved as they find out first-hand that garbage polluting our oceans is not only unsightly but harmful to fish and wildlife.
|Fundy North Fishermen's Association
|LFA 36 and 37
|This project will focus on sharing best practices and practical methods for completing ghost gear retrieval. Focus will also be on ghost gear retrieval activities in LFA36, where multiple fisheries were operating when Hurricane Fiona hit. These activities will address local lost gear, as well as ghost gear that will migrate from other areas to SWNB, as has been documented previously in our retrieval work following large storms.
|Ghost Gear Disappear Inc.
|Miscou Island, NB
|This project is a beach clean-up project on Miscou Island, focusing on the retrieval and disposal of abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear. Main activities include directed retrieval operations, training, gear recycling, and community engagement.
|Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board
|LFA 26A and B
|This project focused on the retrieval of ghost gear in the Southern Gulf. The impact Hurricane Fiona has made on the fishing industry is yet to be understood but this project will help create sustainable solutions for the environment and fishing industry. This project will collect ghost gear in the Southern Gulf, with a focus on all 28 harbours that we represent.
|Harbour Authority of Toney River
|This project will remove old fishing gear off the bottom of the ocean floor, which is a vital part of keeping the waters where harbour users fish free of debris that could negatively impact the ecosystem.
|Harbour Authority of Wallace
|The Harbour Authority of Wallace is dedicated to managing the daily operations of the Wallace Harbour Wharf, serving the commercial fishing community. The Wharf is a bustling hub of activity, especially during the lobster season and summer months. The Harbour Authority of Wallace will use its knowledge of the local fishing industry and maritime operations to contribute to removing ghost gear from the surrounding waters.
|This project aims to detect and identify lost gear with no bottom seafloor disturbance in Lobster Fishing Area 25 by using sonar, subsea positioning, and underwater visuals. High-impacted areas were noted in the fall of 2022 and will be scanned to determine the best way to recover the tangled and lost gear. Once the method of recovery is identified and the location marked, well-equipped vessels will return to recover the identified targets and bring the recovered gear to shore to be recycled, reused, or properly disposed.
|Karen and Alan Barkhouse
|Minas Basin and Upper Bay of Fundy
|The main goal of this project is to locate and retrieve ghost gear with minimal damage to the underwater habitat. The areas of focus are the Minas Basin and Upper Bay of Fundy as the project participants are experienced with the heavy tides and currents of this area.
|Listuguj Mi'gmaq Government Natural Resource Directorate
|This project covers 3 major elements: community awareness, retrieval campaigns, and the recycling of ghost gear. A two-week workshop in high-tech material acquisition and training will be conducted by Merinov which will involve multiple partners. The workshop will include classroom and at-sea training, identifying recovery zones, detection, retrieval protocols, bests practices, equipment requirements, and retrieved gear dismantling.
|LFA 24, 34 and 38
|This project expands on Marine Thinking's digital tagging and tracking system, utilizing trial data to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and usability of the system. This phase of the project aims to further digitize and automate fishing workflows by integrating sensors, autonomous technology, and custom software systems into a modified survey vessel. Scan data collected from the vessel will be accessible to operators in real-time, allowing crew members to coordinate activities for gear retrieval. This project will also look to expand its trial participation level among fishers, giving the project greater data volume to analyze.
|Maritime Fishermen's Union
|LFA 26, and 27
|The Maritime Fishermen's Union (MFU) will retrieve ghost gear in LFAs 26, and 27. Members participating in the project will be fully engaged as partnerships created through this work are important to the MFU, and healthy oceans are critical to healthy fisheries.
|Gaspésie, Cap-Gaspé to Cap-d'Espoir, including around Bonaventure Island, coastal
|The objective of this project was to reduce the impact of ghost fishing on the Gaspé Peninsula, particularly from lost lobster and snow crab traps. This area is part of the natural habitat of several species of marine mammals and includes two protected areas, namely the Banc-des-Américains and the Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock National Park. Three recovery techniques are planned, either with a remotely operated vehicle, divers, or circular recovery machine. Recovered gear in good condition will be reused, while gear in poor condition will be recycled.
|Micmac's of Gesgapegiag Bands
|CFA 12A and 12
|The main focus of this project is to retrieve lost gear in CFA 12. This project will help lay the foundation for our fisheries fleet to actively participate in the clean-up and eco-friendly management of our fishing areas.
|Gloucester and Northumberland Counties
|This project will conduct a ghost gear retrieval blitz from beaches on the Acadian Peninsula, which is critical habitat for the Piping Plover. This project will provide education and training opportunities for local conservation groups, Indigenous groups, and industry partners as well as promote collaborative planning to enhance coordination among the various groups involved in ghost gear work in northeastern New Brunswick.
|North Shore Oyster co. inc.
|Cascumpec Bay, Prince County &Covehead Bay, Queens County, PEI
|This project involves the replacement of all lines and anchors that hold North Shore Oyster Co. inc. cages in place with a new higher quality and larger diameter rope. This new line system should hold up much better in extreme weather events. The result should be a much smaller chance of oyster cages breaking free and potentially becoming lost.
|PEI Aquaculture Alliance
|Prince Edward Island
|The objectives of this project are to support and enhance the existing shoreline cleanup efforts of aquaculture industry members, local environmental groups, and the PEI Department of Fisheries and Communities. This project will allow for public participation in shoreline cleanups by placing waste receptacles at strategic locations, as well as developing new communication tools on how to report areas in need of attention and the availability of disposal sites funded by this project.
|Petty Harbour Fishermen's Producer Co-operative Society Ltd.
|Newfoundland-Burgeo, Rose Blanche / Harbour Le Cou, Codroy,Harbour Breton, and Hermitage
|This project will engage local fish harvesters and harbour authorities from areas on the southwest coast of Newfoundland and Labrador that have been affected by Hurricane Fiona. We will recruit and collaborate with community participants to locate, retrieve, and responsibly dispose of ghost gear. Our team will provide the knowledge, tools, and experience gained from three successful years of ghost gear retrievals on the eastern Avalon Peninsula to aid in the removal of lost gear and the recovery of these fishing communities.
|Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association Ltd.
|LFA 25 and 26A
|This project focuses on the retrieval of ghost gear in Lobster Fishing Areas 25 and 26A. This project will use local fish harvesters' experience and strong knowledge of surrounding waterways to remove as much lost gear from the water as possible.
|Rassemblement de pêcheurs et pêcheuses des côtes des Îles (RPPCI)
|This project aims to recover and dispose of end-of-life lobster traps or traps that have been damaged by Hurricane Fiona in a responsible manner. A recovery container for voluntary deposit will be installed at each of the 6 participating ports for harvesters to deposit their damaged or unusable traps. Terrassement Maxime Deblois will be responsible for collecting the contents of the containers, transporting and dismantling traps, and recycling or disposing of the materials in a responsible manner. Unusable traps will be provided to the Lab-Usine of the Centre de Recherche sur les milieux insulaires et Maritimes (CERMIM) to develop a responsible disposal process for lobster traps on the archipelago.
|Regroupement des mariculteurs du Québec (RMQ)
|Carleton-sur-Mer, Baie-des-Chaleurs, Région de la Gaspésie
|This project targets an abandoned mariculture site in Quebec that was previously used for mussel cultivation. The Regroupement des mariculteurs du Québec will retrieve, recover, and reuse abandoned production equipment from the site, as well document the techniques used, leading to improved clean-up operations of other abandoned sites.
|Scotian Shores Shoreline Clean Up and Debris Removal
|Bay of Fundy, NS, SWNS and Cape Breton
|This project will host at least 15 organized shoreline cleanups and 15 days of island retrievals from April 2023 to March 2024 to remove shoreline debris and ghost gear.
|Recycle on the Rock
|Newfoundland and Labrador
|The goal of this project is to help end plastic pollution by developing recycling solutions for plastics currently destined for landfills. Funds will be used for Recycle on the Rock to grow its recycling capacity to provide a viable, sustainable long-term recycling option for Atlantic Canada's ghost gear & end-of-life fishing gear.
|SeaTown Marine Inc.
|LFA 24, 25 and 26A
|This project is for searching, identifying, and retrieving ghost gear using advanced sonar technology and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The project will focus on collecting high-quality data from the seabed in Lobster Fishing Areas 24, 25, and 26A to locate potential points of interest. The ROV will then be used to verify and non-invasively retrieve the identified ghost gear. This project will emphasize developing local skills and expertise in innovative technology, as well as fostering strong relationships with the fishing industry.
|Sustane Technologies Inc.
|This project will process ghost gear collected by retrieval partners as well as ocean plastics and plastics from end-of-life fishing gear from shoreline cleanups and transform them into chemical feedstocks. These feedstocks can be used in place of virgin resins to make new plastics in a closed-loop process, including in the manufacture of new rope and plastic products for the fishing industry.
|Cascumpec, and Foxley River Prince Edward Island
|This project will adopt new technologies and materials in Sweet Selects' aquaculture operation to mitigate potential future ghost gear, as well as reduce the potential of plastics entering the ecosystem. Funds will allow for an operation that is more resilient to extreme weather conditions.
|The Ocean Legacy Foundation
|Truro, Nova Scotia
|This project was co-created between communities in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mountain provinces to catalyze a national effort towards developing marine plastic collection, processing and development capacity as well as establishing new markets as part of the response to Hurricane Fiona in Eastern Canada. Funds will be used to expand existing networks, develop infrastructure, and increase skill and training capacity for marine plastic management in Atlantic communities. This project will establish rope shredding and baling capacity in Truro, Nova Scotia, in partnership with Scotia Recycling, as well as support Coastal Action in performing outreach and collection and work with Full Circle Plastics to continue developing lumber products from materials collected during cleanup efforts.
|Titan Maritime Services Ltd
|LFA 23 and 25
|This project focuses on the removal of ghost gear in Lobster Fishing Area 25. Working with local fish harvesters and using a remotely operated vehicle and sonar, retrieval will take place in areas with high concentrations of gear. The highly experienced team with local knowledge will be using a variety of vessels to retrieve the most gear possible.
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