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Ghost gear hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence removes 9 km of rope


A North Atlantic right whale is tangled in fishing rope in the Atlantic Ocean. DFO and the Canadian Coast Guard have completed Operation Ghost, a mission to search for and retrieve lost fishing gear in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. - Center for Coastal Studies
A North Atlantic right whale is tangled in fishing rope in the Atlantic Ocean. DFO and the Canadian Coast Guard have completed Operation Ghost, a mission to search for and retrieve lost fishing gear in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. - Center for Coastal Studies

Fisheries officers have been ghost hunting on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but not in a supernatural sense.

As part of the government’s ongoing efforts to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale, DFO fishery officers and members of the Canadian Coast Guard just completed Operation Ghost, a mission to search for and retrieve lost fishing gear, known as ghost gear, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

According to a DFO press release Over the three-day mission, 101 lost snow crab traps were recovered throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence, removing over nine kilometres of rope from the water

Along with preventing entanglements DFO says removing ghost gear contributes to the conservation of Canada’s fisheries, as the gear traps marine species that would otherwise form part of a fishery’s regular catch.

The operation focused on the areas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence where the most gear was reported lost or missing by responsible fish harvesters.

Since 2018, harvesters in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence have been required to report lost gear and there have been over 1,000 reports of lost fishing gear this year. Fishery officers will return any legal fishing gear that was reported lost, but all unreported gear will be held pending investigation, which may lead to charges.

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