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Ghost Gear Program highlights

Early Estimates show that 739 tonnes of lost or discarded fishing gear was retrieved from Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts since 2020.

In 2020, a recycling depot specifically designed for ocean plastics, including end-of-life fishing gear was built in Ucluelet, B.C. The recycling depot is now operational and turning ghost gear plastic into plastic pellets that will be used in the manufacturing of secondary plastic products. Additional fishing gear recycling opportunities are being developed in Powel River, B.C.

The Ghost Gear Program also works to reunite lost fishing gear with its owner, a process made easier through increased gear marking and reporting requirements introduced by Fisheries and Oceans Canada since 2018.

Nootka Sound Ghost Gear Cleanup Project

Fisheries and Oceans Canada partnered with the Coastal Restoration Society and local First Nations to remove abandoned shellfish aquaculture sites across Vancouver Island.

Pacific Region conservation and protection retrieval efforts

Boundary Bay

Over several days in early 2021, fishery officers from the Langley and Richmond detachments, and the Vancouver-based Whale Protection Unit, working with their Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) colleagues, conducted a ghost gear and illegal fishing gear retrieval operation in the waters of Boundary Bay, near Whiterock, B.C. The joint operation spanned five days and 337 crab traps were retrieved and a large number of crab and fish were returned to the water.

Fraser River

In the Fraser River adjacent to the Katzie First Nations Reserve, an accumulation of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear was posing a risk to local salmon and sturgeon populations. Under direction of Regional Conservation and Protection Officers, a barge and backhoe were used to remove a sizable mass of lost fishing gear, primarily gillnets. Their efforts were a success, removing a large majority of the identified nets.

Gear Innovation Summit 2020

The Gear Innovation Summit took place in Halifax in February 2020, and included a trade show focused on technological solutions and industry innovation to mitigate ghost gear. We continue to promote Canada’s leadership on innovation in fisheries, including industry-led initiatives addressing ghost gear and for whale safe gear technology. The Summit provided an opportunity for harvesters, technical experts, non-government and government agencies, to share information and learn about innovative technologies and programming aimed to the prevention, reduction, and retrieval of ghost gear and reduce the impact of fishing activities on marine mammals.

What We Heard Report

Operation Ghost

From July 18 to 20, 2019, DFO and the Canadian Coast Guard conducted a three-day ghost gear retrieval operation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This operation focused on areas with known concentrations of ghost gear.

The goal was to remove as much lost fishing gear as possible from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in order to help prevent entanglements to marine mammals, including North Atlantic right whales, and increase the sustainability of Canada’s Atlantic fisheries.

We recovered over 100 snow crab traps removing over 9 km of rope from the water.

Natural Resources Consultants scuba diver preparing to collect ghost gear.

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