Feds host conference on fishing tech to protect whales, prevent ocean plastics
A major contributor to plastic waste in oceans is lost and abandoned fishing gear, also known as ghost gear, which can entangle whales
HALIFAX — Feb. 11 marks the start of the Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Gear Innovation Summit, a two-day event in Halifax, N.S., to explore options for whale-safe fishing gear, and find ways to prevent, retrieve and recycle lost or discarded fishing gear, known as ghost gear.
The summit brings together over 250 harvesters, industry representatives, fishing gear manufacturers, marine mammal responders, environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and government officials from Canada, the United States, Iceland and Norway.
Participants contribute to panel discussions, as well as an interactive exhibit space that features gear technology and programming from across the country.
Over the last year, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has been working on pilot projects, led by industry, to test the application of new gear technologies, such as ropeless gear. The government department says initiatives such as these could help further reduce the amount of rope in the water and subsequently lower the risk of entanglements to whales in the future.
Additionally, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has established the $8.3 million Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Support Contribution Program. The department says this program will help Indigenous groups, fish harvesters, the aquaculture industry, non-profit organizations and communities take actions to support ghost gear prevention, retrieval and responsible disposal. It will also support fish harvesters in acquiring new gear technologies to reduce gear loss.
Bernadette Jordan, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said in a statement, “We know that for a lucrative fishing industry and healthy marine ecosystem to continue to coexist, we will need innovate solutions. That is exactly why the Gear Innovation Summit is bringing together experts across many fields. Together, we will continue to confront the challenges of our time to ensure that fish harvesters and marine life can share the oceans for generations to come.”