Language selection


Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund application guidelines

On this page

  1. Background
  2. Program objectives, expected results and criteria
  3. Program structure and timing
  4. Eligible recipients
  5. Eligible activities
  6. Project funding and eligible expenses
  7. Official Languages
  8. Permits and authorizations
  9. How projects are reviewed
  10. Notification of funding decisions
  11. How To apply

1. Background

The Government of Canada is responsible for safeguarding our waters and managing Canada's fisheries and oceans resources. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) helps to ensure healthy and sustainable aquatic ecosystems, and supports economic growth and innovation in the marine and fisheries sectors. DFO works with many partners to reduce interactions between whales and commercial fishing activity, to support healthy whale populations and sustainable fisheries.

DFO undertakes a variety of activities to reduce harm to large whales from fisheries, under the following three approaches:

In February 2020, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard announced new requirements for non-tended, fixed gear fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Quebec to adopt gear modifications to alleviate entanglements by the end of 2022.

DFO’s Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund is a new way to support our commitment to protecting marine environments, by supporting harvesters and partners to reduce harm and risk of harm to whales from commercial fishing activities. The Program consists of $20M in contribution funding over two years (2021-2023) to support projects that advance the adoption of methods to prevent and alleviate whale entanglement.

Whalesafe gear includes but is not limited to the following:

The funds will be distributed in two rounds of funding, based on the priorities and timelines described below.

2. Program objectives, expected results and criteria


The primary objective of the WSGF is to support activities that will help harvesters adopt gear designed to prevent and alleviate whale entanglements into commercial fishery operations in Atlantic Canada and Quebec by the end of 2022, or before fishing seasons open in 2023. Funding is available to commercial fish harvester organizations and other partners in Atlantic Canada and Quebec to purchase, test, refine, and operationalize whalesafe fishing gear, devices, and systems that will prevent and alleviate whale entanglement.

Activities to be supported may include refinement leading to adoption of known ropeless or rope-on-demand gear systems and gear location marking technology necessary for its implementation; purchase, trials and adoption of low breaking-strength or ‘weak’ gear devices or components; and work by manufacturers to perfect whalesafe gear and technology in the final stages toward commercialization.

Expected Results

The fund will provide up to $10 million in each of two years to support projects that advance the adoption of existing whalesafe gear, devices and systems in commercial fisheries, with the objective of bringing them to operational use by 2023 fishing seasons. The fund will support projects that reflect the priorities listed below; these priorities are listed in ranked order, with proposals to be scored accordingly.

Funding criteria

Successful proposals will demonstrate all of the following:

3. Program structure and timing

Applications to the fund will be accepted at the following times:

The activities proposed, and related expenditures, must be completed by March 31, 2023.

Applicants considering submitting more than one proposal are encouraged to consolidate multiple, smaller proposals into a single, large application that outlines clearly the different activities.

4. Eligible recipients

Groups in the following categories are eligible for support from the WSGF

*Note: Indigenous groups, organizations and communities include:

5. Eligible activities

The WSGF will support activities in the following categories. The application form provides space for you to indicate clearly which of these categories each proposed activity falls under.

6. Project funding and eligible expenses

Proposals, or activities within proposals, receiving funding from another source must be distinct and will not be approved for funding under the Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund (WSGF). Any applications submitted to the other federal funding programs (e.g., AFSAR, Interdepartmental Recovery Fund, Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, EcoAction, HSP, etc.) must be for different activities than those listed in the WSGF proposal.

Eligible expenses include:

7. Official languages

This Program will take into account the relevant official language obligations as specified in the Official Languages Act, the related regulations, as well as related federal policies in this regard. The Program will not change the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ obligations with respect to providing bilingual services to the public and ensuring the work environment is conducive to the use of both official languages, and the vitality of official language minority communities remains unaffected. The Department will ensure that activities, publicity and announcements regarding the Program will be in both official languages.

Where appropriate, contribution agreements signed by the recipient will contain a clause addressing the requirements of the Official Languages Act whereby the recipient agrees to communicate and make announcements to the public concerning their activity(ies) in both official languages; the clause will also address the provision of program documentation in both official languages.

8. Permits and authorizations

The applicant is responsible for obtaining the appropriate permits associated with proposed projects from relevant federal and/or provincial authorities. Applicants will also be expected to remain in compliance with all relevant laws, including but not limited to the Fisheries Act, Marine Mammal Regulations, Fishery (General) Regulations and Species at Risk Act.

Activities undertaken under the proposals must adhere to any Fisheries General Regulations Section 52 licence issued, and any other authorizations that may be provided by the department.

9. How proposals are reviewed

Requests for funding may exceed the funds available, and there is no guarantee that a project submitted will be funded.

Proposals will be reviewed and scored based on all of the information provided in the application form, including how the proposed work supports the WSGF objectives and priorities as outlined in program documents. Proposal review will take into account how well the funding criteria listed in Section 2 of this document are met. Only the information provided in the application form will be considered in the review of proposals.

10. Notification of funding decisions

Every effort will be made to provide applicants with timely notification once a decision has been made.

Successful proposals

Program officials will contact successful applicants to seek additional information about the project, to inform the preparation of the contribution agreement for the transfer of funds.

11. How to apply

Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund application
(DOCX, 198 KB)

Applicants requesting funding under the WSGF are required to submit a proposal using the application form provided.

Application submission

To submit your proposal or to ask questions, please contact:

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:
Date modified: