Environmental groups will soon be able to access more funding to support the retrieval of abandoned fishing gear. (Emerald Sea Protection Society Photo)

Environmental groups will soon be able to access more funding to support the retrieval of abandoned fishing gear. (Emerald Sea Protection Society Photo)

Ottawa commits $8M to ghost gear retrieval

“A lot of birds, seals, crab and even our fish get entangled in ghost fishing gear.”

The Government of Canada is committing $8.3 million to help fish harvesters, environmental groups, Indigenous communities, and the aquaculture industry retrieve abandoned fishing gear, or so-called ghost gear, from the ocean and dispose of it responsibly.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced the new Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Program at a media event in Nova Scotia on Aug. 27.

“Our government has made fighting plastic pollution a top priority,” said the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in the Aug. 27 media release.

“Just a few months ago, the Government of Canada announced that it will ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021. Today’s actions build on that commitment. Removing harmful ghost fishing gear from the oceans will support a healthy ocean environment and contribute to the economic resilience of Canada’s coastal and rural communities,” said Hon. Wilkinson.

Jennifer Adamson volunteers for the Emerald Sea Protection Society, a B.C.-based non-profit made up of divers and scientists who work together to recover abandoned fishing gear. She said she was thankful to hear this promise from Ottawa.

“One of our big projects that we did was a great, big seine net. It was the size of a football field,” said Adamson. “It was on the floor of the water right beside Pender Island. We sent divers down and they just hacked away at it.”

She went on to say that they pulled the net up using buoyancy tools, cleaned the net to get all the debris off and then Emerald Sea Society shipped the net to Steveston Harbour for recycling.

“They turned the net into some pretty cool stuff, like skateboards and clothing,” said Adamson. “It’s worth getting it out of the ocean.”

In March, Emerald Sea teamed up with Surfrider Pacific Rim to retrieve ghost gear from Tofino’s First Street dock. The volunteer divers recovered over 1,200 kilograms of debris from the ocean floor in one day. According to Fisheries and Oceans, 640,000 tons of abandoned fishing gear enters our oceans every year.

Funding for the new Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Program will likely be accessed through an application process. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will also host a Gear Innovation Summit in February 2020, which will include discussions on technological solutions to prevent ghost gear from entering the oceans in the first place.

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns commended Hon. Wilkinson and Government of Canada for the funding commitment. Johns touched on the issue of ghost gear and derelict boats in the House of Commons in November 2018.

“As members know, ghost fishing gear is dangerous to the mammals and species in the ocean. A lot of birds, seals, crab and even our fish get entangled in ghost fishing gear. It is very important that we explore ways to get it out. It is costly for the economy. Washington State says it costs it about $700,000 U.S. just in lost crab to crab pots that have been left at the bottom of the sea, that have escaped,” stated Johns.

The ghost gear retrieval program follows through on one of the recommendations put forward in MP Johns’ M-151 motion to combat marine plastics pollution, which received unanimous support by the House of Commons in December 2018.

“It is extremely encouraging to receive the federal government’s announcement on funding for ghost gear clean up in Canadian waters,” reads a statement from Surfrider Canada.

“We are eager for the federal government to implement all other recommendations put forward by Motion-151, in addition to the recommendations we sent to the Minister of Environment in June in partnership with 11 other environmental nonprofit organizations, which includes adding plastic waste to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act’s Schedule 1 List of Toxic Substances. Lastly, funding for the recycling of all retrieved ghost gear needs to be provided by the federal government to ensure this material is kept out of landfills and turned back into a resource,” Surfrider Canada states.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Fisheries and Oceans CanadafishingSurfriderTofino,ucluelet

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
NTC president calls for ‘massive change’ after Indigenous woman shot by police in Hitacu

“We need to get to the root of what is actually happening with the RCMP and our communities”

Hotel Zed Tofino has won a Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Award. (Westerly file photo)
Hotel Zed Tofino wins commercial building award

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board holds virtual gala.

The District of Ucluelet is fast-tracking temporary use permits for RVs/campervans as seasonal housing. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet reviews 11 applications for RVs as seasonal housing

“Housing is so essential to everyone, and an issue that cases a lot of stress to business owners.”

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

Most Read