Ghost fishing gear project, first of its kind in Nova Scotia
A major and unique project to combat ghost fishing gear has been launched.
The implementation of waste management systems for responsible disposal of end-of-life gear, carrying out an impact assessment while recovering ghost fishing gear in targeted areas and ongoing communication campaigns are making part of the objectives of the collaborative project just launched and led by Coastal Action, Mahone La Baie.
âTackling Ghost Gear: Collaborative Remediation of Abandoned, Lost, and Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) in Southwest Nova Scotiaâ is a $ 432,000 project funded by the Contribution Program to Support Sustainable Fishing Solutions and Salvage ( SFSRSCP) from the federal government. The project is scheduled to run from July 2020 to March 2022.
âThis is the first truly in-depth, action-oriented project where we try to overcome known obstacles,â said Alexa Goodman, project coordinator. âIf successful, maybe the recovery process can be underway, maybe other rope bins can be put in place. This project is the first step towards something different.
The project will work in collaboration with industry, universities and government to prevent, reduce and assess the impacts of ALDFG in Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs) 33 and 34 on the south shore and southwest of Nova Scotia and in LFA 35 in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia side. Project partners include the Clean Annapolis River Project (CARP), the Coldwater Lobster Association, the Brazil Rock Lobster Association, and Dalhousie University, among others.
Equip 10 ports in the three LFAs with rope disposal tanks, conduct 159 days of equipment salvage in all three LFAs using grapples created by Clare Machine Works, divert approximately 2,000 lobster traps and 22 tonnes of rope high-impact disposal methods, involving around 40 partners, and the application of new technologies to help manage ALDFG, such as Sustane Technologies Inc. of Chester which will recycle the collected rope into diesel fuel, are among the goals and objectives of the project.
Innovative mapping technologies will be used in partnership with the Dalhousie Department of Oceanography and the Ocean Tracking Network to improve the recovery process by using side-scan sonar technology to clearly identify where lost gear is on the bottom sailor.
Goodman said the 10 port rope collection bins that will be installed have yet to be determined. âThe project is designed to work in conjunction with fishing organizations and small craft harbor authorities, so there is a whole process in place to determine which ports to select.
Gear recovery will be carried out over the course of the project, with two vessels participating in each LFA 33 and 35, and three in LFA 34 for a total of seven, Goodman said.
âThe fishermen will be performing the recovery in partnership with the Ocean Tracking Network, Dalhousie University and the Clean Annapolis River Project,â said Goodman. âWe will be using side scan sonar in advance to determine where the equipment is on the ocean floor. Without knowing where the equipment is, it’s almost like looking for a needle in a haystack. The fishermen will carry out the recovery on the basis of informed information. We will be doing some in-depth mapping to determine where we want to prioritize so that we have a plan in place “before and during the recovery process” a technician on board to help gather information on what is to come ” .
Abandoned, Lost and Scrapped (ALDFG) fishing gear, commonly referred to as âghost gearâ makes up a large portion of all marine debris. It causes significant negative environmental, economic and social impacts, including habitat degradation, indiscriminate fishing and entanglements, decreased catches, safety risks at sea and damage to vessels. ALDFG is generated by adverse environmental conditions, gear conflicts between fishermen and other industries, poor gear condition and improper disposal at sea. Losses can be accidental – fishermen are not always in good condition. fault because the marine environment is shared with other industries.
After a recent study estimating the presence of 1.8 billion marine debris on the seafloor of the Bay of Fundy, Dr Tony Walker, an expert in plastic research and policy, said: The problems we discovered in our previous work using underwater video to identify and locate ALDFG “.
Heather Mulock, executive director of the Coldwater Lobster Association, said the last thing fishermen want to do is lose their gear. âThe ocean is where they make their living and protecting the marine environment and their fishing grounds is crucial to the long-term sustainability of all commercial fisheries. “
While most anglers do their best to retrieve lost gear, some gear inevitably remains at sea due to several challenges. For example, gear can be difficult to move once lost, and existing DFO license conditions limit recovery.
âThe existing license conditions present challenges for fishermen to bring ghost gear ashore, so projects like this are a good start to facilitate recovery efforts,â said Mulock. âAs a solution-oriented association, we are delighted to collaborate on this project. It is the start of something that can be much bigger by allowing fishermen to be part of the solution.
Another contributing factor to the problem is that the management of end-of-life gear waste is inconsistent with limited options for low-impact disposal methods. Cost and convenience are known hurdles that hinder effective disposal, perpetuating high impact disposal methods such as illegal landfills.
The $ 8.3 million Sustainable Fishing Solutions and Salvage Support Contribution Program, known as the Ghost Gear Fund, will fund 22 projects in Canada and four overseas over the next two years. . All projects fall into at least one of four categories: gear recovery, responsible disposal, acquisition and piloting of available gear technology, and international leadership.