A blend of conservation groups and professional fishing organizations will share in a $8.3-million federal fund to help rid the coastal waters of so-called ghost gear, lost or abandoned equipment considered the world’s largest contributor to marine litter.
Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight, posing dangers to whales and turtles, the coastal environment and global fishing stocks.
To combat the problem Fisheries and Oceans Canada opened the Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Support Contribution Program, or Ghost Gear Fund, last February and today (July 8) released a list of the 26 project recipients.
“The overwhelming interest in the Ghost Gear Fund demonstrates that Canadians share this priority and want to be a part of the solution,” Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said in a statement.
“The recipients of the fund will make a significant difference domestically, and internationally, as they remove ghost fishing gear from the oceans, recycle or dispose of it responsibly. Most importantly, they are creating tangible solutions to help prevent more plastic from entering our waters in the future.”
The fund will go to 22 projects in Canada, including 10 provincially, and four projects internationally over the next two years.
Each project falls into at least one category of gear retrieval, responsible disposal, acquisition and piloting of available gear technology, and international leadership.
In B.C. the 10 funded projects will be led by seven organizations: BC Shellfish Growers Association, Ecotrust Canada, Emerald Sea Protection Society, Natural Resources Consultants, The Ocean Legacy Foundation, Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association and T Buck Suzuki Foundation.
The fund stems from the government’s target of protecting 25 per cent of the Canada’s oceans by 2025.
In 2018 Canada was the 13th nation to join World Animal Protection’s Global Ghost Gear Initiative, an international alliance of nations, companies, and environment groups.
The government noted at the time fishing gear is a far bigger issue to the ocean garbage problem than plastic straws, water bottles and grocery bags, but often flies under the radar as governments and environment groups focus on single-use plastics that will get more attention from businesses and consumers.