September 3, 2020
This week kicked off a two-year project by FFAW-Unifor to retrieve lost fishing gear around the province as part of a larger national effort to remove ghost gear from Canadian waters. Now three days into the first week, participants are happy to report gear such as rope, buoys and lobster pots have been retrieved from Bay St. George.
The project is funded from the federal government’s Ghost Gear Fund and through consultations with fish harvesters, FFAW-Unifor has identified key areas to target for retrieval. This year the project will undertake Bay St. George (4R) on the west coast followed by two areas on the south coast. Next year the project aims to tackle 2J, 3K and 3L. The project charters local fishing vessels in each area that are selected by a random draw process.
“We are using two vessels simultaneously to retrieve the gear – one equipped with sonar/echosounder detection and the second larger vessel to retrieve the any gear detected,” explains FFAW-Unifor Project Coordinator, Dwan Street.
The gear used in the retrieval process is modeled after Fundy North Fisherman’s Association who have been undertaking similar work since 2008 and was fabricated locally by FFAW-Unifor members at Steelfab Industries Ltd. in Paradise.
Once retrieved, ghost gear is separated and documented to guide future gear disposal and recycling programs in the province to best understand what the industry requirements are for large-scale recycling of such materials.
“Harvesters are working hard to fish more sustainably and prevent gear loss. They’ve made significant changes in recent years, like adopting biodegradable twine in their pots and more active management of fishing gear including shorter duration in the water. But we know that decades-old ghost gear is still in the ocean so it’s important that we do what we can to remove that while ensuring we help harvesters to minimize any future loss of that kind,” says Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor President.
Project participant Renny Hickey says of his involvement, “I was interested in the project both to retrieve lost gear as well as to show that Bay St. George is a clean bay and as harvesters, we’ve been doing a great job over the years in keeping it that way.”
This week provided a great start to the project and we look forward to providing updates when the project continues on the south coast in the coming weeks.
For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Glode at [email protected] or 709-743-4443.