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Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) undertakes a variety of activities to reduce harm to large whales from entanglements in fishing gear, under the following three approaches:

  1. Entanglement Prevention – removing and reducing fishing gear and rope in areas of whale presence or aggregation. Long-standing management practices, such as fishing season and trap limits, seasonal and temporary closures based on right whale presence, and removal of ghost gear from the ocean, help prevent whale interaction with fishing gear.
  2. Entanglement Alleviation – reducing the severity and duration of the entanglements that occur despite measures to prevent entanglement. Incorporating whalesafe gear, including low breaking-strength, or ‘weak’, components designed to part when a whale becomes entangled in fishing gear.
  3. Entanglement Response – assisting large whales in distress, in collaboration with trained expert responders and incident response networks under the umbrella of the Marine Mammal Response Program.

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 (WSGF) is a new way to support this commitment to reducing harm and risk of harm to whales from commercial fishing activities. The fund consists of $20M in contribution agreement 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: 

Priority areas

This initiative supports adoption of existing whalesafe gear, devices and systems in commercial fisheries, as well as trials and validation of such gear, devices and systems, under the operational conditions of fixed-gear fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Quebec, with the objective of bringing them to operational use by 2023 fishing seasons. Proposals will be prioritized as follows:

Purchase and adoption

Purchase and adoption of existing low breaking strength or ‘weak’ gear and devices designed to alleviate whale entanglements, and of existing ‘ropeless’ gear, rope-on-demand gear, and related components designed to prevent whale entanglements.

Purchase and tests, trials, or pilots

Purchase and tests, trials, or pilots of whalesafe gear, gear components, and/or gear configurations that have been designed to prevent and alleviate whale entanglements, and of ‘ropeless’ systems and associated gear location marking technology.

Manufacturing to achieve commercial availability

Manufacturing to achieve commercial availability – develop and/or refine Canadian sources of whalesafe gear and gear components that can be tested in 2022 fishing seasons, and that will be commercially available for 2023 fishing seasons, supporting domestic production capacity.

Proposal review process

Funding requests will be assessed against several criteria including these three program priority levels,  with highest priority placed on proposals to purchase and adopt existing whalesafe gear. For more detail on how proposals will be evaluated, please refer to the Application Guidelines


The following groups are eligible to apply to the Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund:


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

How to apply

Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund application
(DOCX, 198 KB)

Applications must be submitted using the application form and must meet all of the program’s requirements to be considered for funding. Submitted applications by email to:

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