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Media opportunity: Lucrative fishing grounds littered with ‘ghost gear' that continues to trap vulnerable species, while degrading habitats and eating into fisheries’ profits: Dalhousie University research

Posted by Communications and Marketing on May 10, 2023 in News

Researchers probing one of Atlantic Canada's most productive fishing regions have found the area off Nova Scotia's southern tip is littered with bundles of snarled rope, drifting lobster pots and abandoned buoys that foul the marine environment and take a bite out of the industry's bottom line.

The team of Dalhousie University scientists worked with Coastal Action, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, fishing captains, volunteers and different fisheries organizations to search for and retrieve abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) from three fishing zones that stretch from the Bay of Fundy around to Halifax.

Boats towing grapples over a 4,000-square kilometre swath of seafloor hauled in almost 25,000 kilograms of ALDFG -- a collection of traps, ropes, hooks, cables and other fishing-related equipment that drift through the water column or rest on the ocean bottom. They also collected almost 5,000 kilograms of assorted fishing gear from seven shoreline searches. Of this, lobster traps made up 68 per cent and 12 per cent was dragger cable.

Tony Walker, an associate professor in Dal's School for Resource and Environmental Studies, collaborated on the project that ran from 2019 to 2021 and provides the first assessment of both the environmental and economic impacts of ALDFG on the industry in an area that provides most of the country’s lobster supply. The team outlined the findings in a new paper published today in Marine Pollution Bulletin.

Dr. Walker is available to discuss the research and how so-called 'ghost gear' contributes to marine pollution, ensnares a range of at-risk marine species and is estimated to have cost $240,000 in industry losses per year.


Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491


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