Feds introduce reporting app for lost fishing gear

A new online system makes it easier for commercial seafood harvesters to report their lost fishing gear. The Fishing Gear Reporting System allows them to input a description of their lost gear, the cause of loss, and its location from any online device.

All commercial harvesters in Canada are required to report their lost fishing gear to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This reporting helps the Department and other partners locate and remove lost gear and, in many cases, return the gear to its owner.   

The Ghost Gear Fund (Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Support Contribution Program) was launched in 2019. Just two years later, the Ghost Gear Fund has helped remove 224 tonnes of old gear from Canadian and international waters – the equivalent weight of 36 elephants. The Fund has returned 101 units of lost gear back to harvesters and helped develop news ways to prevent and track lost gear in the future.

Data and retrieval

The Fishing Gear Reporting System was developed under the Ghost Gear Fund, and will provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada with more accurate and timely data on areas where gear loss is most frequent, as well as its most common causes. This information will help the Department to better target areas for ghost gear retrieval activities and find solutions to help prevent gear-loss in the future.

“Canada’s new Fishing Gear Reporting system further solidifies Canada as a global leader in finding solutions to ghost gear,” said Joel Baziuk, associate director, Global Ghost Gear Initiative.

“Implementing a system like this is a key recommendation of the newly revised GGGI Best Practice Framework for the Management of Fishing Gear, and we hope that other countries will follow this example and develop similar systems in the months and years to come.”

Coming soon for recreational fishermen

The Fishing Gear Reporting System is currently available to commercial harvesters across the country. Recreational harvesters and the general public will be able to use the system to report lost gear at a later date.

In January 2020, the Department launched the $8.3 million Sustainable Fisheries Solutions and Retrieval Support Contribution Fund (Ghost Gear Fund). The Ghost Gear Fund currently supports 26 projects under four program pillars: 1) ALDFG retrieval, 2) responsible disposal, 3) uptake and piloting of technology to prevent gear loss and 4) international leadership.

The 2021 Federal Budget announced an additional $10M in funding for the Ghost Gear fund for 2021-2022, to continue to advance Canada’s role as international leaders in addressing abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG). The proposal evaluation process closed July 7th, 2021, and evaluations are currently being completed to allocate these funds.

So far, the Ghost Gear Program has retrieved a total of 224 tonnes of fishing gear and marine debris; 159 tonnes from the Atlantic and 65 tonnes from the Pacific coast.

The Ghost Gear Fund has achieved more than 185 retrieval trips and retrieved more than 1303 units of gear, including 27,000ft of rope.