This file photo shows some of the ocean debris collected by volunteers on Denman Island in 2018.

This file photo shows some of the ocean debris collected by volunteers on Denman Island in 2018.

Courtenay-Alberni MP encouraged by Ghost Gear Fund

It may not be a large chunk of change in the scheme of things, but Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns is encouraged by an $8.3 million federal contribution to clean up ocean debris.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) recently announced that 26 groups will benefit from the Ghost Gear Fund, referring to lost and abandoned fishing gear, which is one of the largest contributors to marine litter.

READ: Shellfish industry get funds to clean up Baynes Sound and beyond

“It’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s a drop that we didn’t have five years ago,” said Johns, the NDP Critic for Fisheries and Oceans. “All of these groups are working hard to create awareness and education, but wanting change from the top in terms of regulations and legislation in Ottawa — and also looking for funding…This program was a result of our motion (M151) and a result of our work collaboratively. We’re ecstatic to see the money finally starting to flow.”

The disappointing part, he said, is the size of the fund, noting 22 of 90-plus applications were approved in Canada. Four international projects were approved.

“It shows that it was way over-prescribed. We hope it will lead to further funding as they see the results.”

Johns expects some of the projects will be “transformational.” The Ocean Legacy Foundation, for instance, plans to build pilot ocean plastic collection depots in Tofino and Powell River.

“We hope they’ll lead to significant change, but at the same time we need to change regulations and policy when it comes to ghost gear.”

He implores Canada to consider the leadership shown in Oregon and Washington. In the last 13 years, he said nearly 6,000 large fishing nets have been removed in Washington, saving about 12,000 marine animals each year.

The fishing industry says five to 30 per cent of overall species in the biomass is trapped in derelict gear.

“It’s a significant cost to the commercial fishing industry,” Johns said, noting a voluntary program in Washington allows people to report lost gear and nets.

“That no-fault approach has helped fishers voluntarily share what they’re doing.”

As part of the COVID-19 response, the Small Ship Tour Operators Association of BC has pitched an idea for marine debris removal.

“They have the equipment, and they could be working this fall, but as we know, there’s no envelope right now that works quickly for the federal government to respond,” Johns said.

“We’re continuing to monitor how this program (Ghost Gear Fund) will roll out,” he added. “We do need to see better traceability, better marking of gear and better tagging of gear. No one wants to lose their gear. It’s expensive, they care deeply about the ocean.”

Illegal fishers, on the other hand, will cut their nets when caught or under surveillance.

“That’s a whole different issue,” Johns said. “Canada needs to really step up its game on illegal fishing.”

The federal government has set a target to protect 25 per cent of our oceans by 2025, working toward 30 per cent by 2030.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Windy conditions in Nanaimo’s Lost Lake area. (News Bulletin file photo)
Wind warning issued for the east coast of Vancouver Island

Environment Canada says people ‘should be on the lookout’ for adverse weather conditions

BC Hydro will release higher volumes of water down the Puntledge River on Nov. 24-25. Black Press file photo
BC Hydro testing hydroelectric facility system along Puntledge River all week

Tests will result in high water levels, possible siren initiation

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Black Creek actress finds success in a virtual world

Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond speaks to reporters from Prince George via Zoom conference, Nov. 24, 2020. MLAs are being sworn in for the legislature session this week, many of them also by video. (B.C. legislature)
B.C. Liberal leadership contest will wait for election post-mortem

Interim leader set to face NDP on payments for COVID-19

Product Care offers more than <a href="http://link.mediaoutreach.meltwater.com/ls/click?upn=pDYyTceU0YgTDdsd92GohdQJsmSiPFEkcB4MdMM0Qkoqb1aJA-2By5aWklKJXV6QRdyTteNjr2FccUOVLUe4t5Zw-3D-3D1ds-_KVyBcpjXADXifSWVpM8nQcAzSm9-2B6fEFnjVrTsOcu31irDHDxi5k0QTOIWCqMXUxaNbrf0yRzXSSpROCkfx3NkUtbr65Dkcw1J0by-2F-2BDdDiJGbcfhtjHWYSs66NwakeCCLYkj20e9ICIZsLcedqNZKBhsN0sGgBsInpdzsddYikUZkmQvFdxLJhakpgAA6aAJ5ScUoWR6vO9sM819vRB-2F6x7dsdfIaWa4ZgHxR4G7hauxgSJCsNI2bP5J62EFfM0aiDqRPwUPUjt7i5-2FMqpdJxrEBewnLky-2B3lE0JAmi5UsJBkJejuLOjsndZz4b7dNgbvt6KyewKuF0sxU2rpYgkAO9YAKc9STuFJd28Qn7jE0-2FqlB8HKOvpW150NHS-2BOMBcK5rkZ8YAuPqJy11k-2BgndiKB-2FWl2icAfbWtRGJPb8fM-3D" target="_blank">150 free drop-off locations</a> in B.C. (Pixabay.com)
Recycling broken or burnt string lights can reduce holiday landfill waste

In 2019, Product Care Recycling diverted more than 11.6 million light bulbs from landfills

Helen Watson, posing for a photo for her 100th birthday, turned 105 on Saturday (Nov. 21). (File photo)
B.C. woman who survived Spanish Flu turns 105

Helen Watson has packed a lot into life – including being in two pandemics

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. to test emergency alert system on cell phones, TVs, radios on Wednesday

The alert is part of a twice yearly test of the national Alert Ready system

Most Read