Over 600 Tonnes of Fishing Gear Retrieved from Hurricane-Ravaged Waters

  • TDS News
  • Canada
  • April 22, 2024

Image credit, Calin Pike

In the wake of Hurricane Fiona’s destructive path through Eastern Canada in September 2022, the Government of Canada has announced a significant milestone in ocean conservation efforts. Fisheries and Oceans Canada revealed today that over 600 tonnes of lost fishing gear, exacerbated by the hurricane’s fury, have been successfully retrieved from the affected areas.

Ghost gear, comprising lost, abandoned, or discarded fishing equipment, poses a grave threat to marine life and ecosystems, contributing to plastic pollution in the oceans. The aftermath of Hurricane Fiona underscored the urgency of addressing this issue, prompting the establishment of the $30 million Hurricane Fiona Ghost Gear Fund.

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, highlighted the collaborative effort that led to this achievement. “Earth Day serves as a poignant reminder of our collective responsibility to safeguard the environment. The tireless work of our partners in cleaning up fishing debris from our waters is commendable,” she stated.

The clean-up initiative, funded by the Ghost Gear Fund, saw the retrieval of over 22,205 units of lost gear, including 453 kilometers of rope, from the areas most severely impacted by Hurricane Fiona. This endeavor builds upon the broader success of the Ghost Gear Fund, which has contributed $58.3 million to 144 projects over the past four years.

Mike Kelloway, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, emphasized the local impact of the clean-up efforts. “Witnessing the devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona firsthand, I applaud the participants of the fund for their tremendous contribution to restoring the marine environment in Eastern Canada,” he remarked.

Moreover, the Government of Canada is now focusing on a proactive action plan to prevent future fishing gear loss, reflecting its commitment to long-term environmental stewardship. By supporting initiatives aimed at gear retrieval, recycling, and technological innovation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada aims to mitigate the detrimental effects of ghost gear on marine ecosystems and coastal communities.

In addition to domestic efforts, Canada is actively engaged in international collaborations to combat ghost gear pollution. Through partnerships with organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Partnership on Plastic Pollution and Marine Litter, Canada is contributing to global initiatives aimed at addressing this pressing environmental challenge.

As Canada celebrates Earth Day, the successful clean-up of fishing debris from Hurricane Fiona’s aftermath serves as a testament to the power of collective action in protecting our oceans and marine life for future generations.