Over the past year, fish harvesters chartered by FFAW-Unifor have removed and recovered roughly 15,000 kilograms of Abandoned, Lost, or Discarded, Fishing Gear (ALDFG), also known as ghost gear, from Newfoundland and Labrador waters. This effort was part of the Fisheries and Oceans Ghost Gear Fund, a 2-year Project starting in 2020. In year-1 of the project, a considerable amount of gear was recovered from the south and west coasts of NL.
In year-2, 31 harvesters working from 10 ports across the province contributed to the retrieval efforts, focusing on southern 2J and 3KLPs. Without NL harvesters’ knowledge of the area and fishing/retrieval expertise, this Project would have been impossible. We thank Captains Baxter Stokes, and Neil Chubbs from 2J, Captains Rodney Card, and Randy Penney from 3K, Captains Aaron Rice, Rodney Mercer, David Johnson, and Dennis Chaulk from 3L; and from 3Ps, captains Dolores Lambert and Greg Day.
FFAW also thanks all Harbour Authorities for their aid and expertise in handling and disposing of gear. Thank you to Roy Mangrove (St. Lewis), Baxter Turnbull (Charlottetown), Gordon Noseworthy (Twillingate), Janis Penton (Joe Batt’s Arm/Fogo), Jack Milley (Old Perlican), Horace Newell (Summerville), Scott Walsh (Bay De Verde), Natasha Snook (Harbour Breton), and Derek Cluett (Garnish).
Retrieval sites were selected based on fish harvesters’ experience and recommendations from interviews with 71 harvesters throughout 2J3KLPs. Gear was recovered using a grapnel, and an underwater camera and sled were used to survey areas of suspected gear loss. In Bonavista Bay, coordinates were provided for a sunken vessel, and our intention was to recover a capelin seine on the deck of the ship. Unfortunately, a fuel/oil bubble was noticed near the wreck and no attempts were made at retrieval.
The underwater camera did get some excellent footage of the vessel as can be seen the YouTube video linked HERE!