The Canadian government has invested CAN$8.3 million to retrieve and remove lost, abandoned and discarded fishing gear, one of the largest causes of marine pollution.
The Ghost Gear Fund, launched in January 2020, has supported 26 projects which have already removed 63 tonnes of discarded equipment from the coastal waters of Atlantic Canada.
The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard called the results ‘incredible’. “[They] are the result of hardworking individuals across Canada and abroad who share in this goal of a healthy, clean ocean.
“Not only have participants removed 63 tonnes of waste from the Atlantic Ocean – including plastics, rope, buoys, and lost fishing traps – but the program is also helping create more sustainable fishing gear for the long term,” she said.
All gear retrieved to date has been in Atlantic Canada, but several projects will start on the Pacific coast in early 2021. The program also works to reunite lost fishing gear with its owner and, so far, more than 100 pieces of marked gear have been claimed and 25 pieces relinquished allowing for them to be safety disposed of.
Gear retrieval is just one of four areas of activity supported by the Ghost Gear Fund. It also invests in projects focusing on responsible disposal, piloting of technology and international leadership, including a recycling depot on Vancouver Island, smart buoy technology in Nova Scotia and craft workshops in Nigeria which make use of end-of-life fishing gear.