Cape Breton Environmental Association has been working closely with community groups, government agencies and fishing associations across Cape Breton and Atlantic Canada to properly address ghost gear and other forms of marine debris including single-use plastics.
With the help of community volunteers and organizations we've removed 411 lobster traps, countless amounts of single-use plastics from Cape Breton shorelines and returned gear that was salvaged to fishers in the community. On top of that CBEA has diverted hundreds of pounds of fishing rope from landfills to local businesses in Cape Breton.
CBEA signed onto the Global Ghost gear initiative and the Fishing Gear Coalition of Atlantic Canada in 2019. The GGGI is a cross stakeholder alliance of fishing industry, private sector, corporate, NGOs, academia and governments focused on solving the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear worldwide.
The Fishing Gear Coalition of Atlantic Canada, is a working group made up of fishing associations, fisheries and oceans representatives, environmental organizations and businesses across the Maritimes, the goal of the group is to find ways to deal with marine waste.
In the past five years we've coordinated and facilitated 40 shoreline cleanups in Cape Breton removing thousands of pounds of lobster traps, fishing rope and other forms of marine debris.
Shoreline Cleanups and Gear Recovery
Understanding the scope of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing debris and mapping out hotspots is crucial in determining how best to address the issue. Our volunteers record how much gear is removed from each individual shoreline, recording gear conditions, tag numbers, gear type, location. Gear that is salvageable is set aside for fish harvesters to retrieve.
Ghost Gear Patrols
With the help of a local fish harvester we perform ghost gear patrols after lobster fishing season. The goal for these patrols is to determine if gear is still in the water fishing unattended.
Lobster gear has the potential to fish unattended for the duration of it's life cycle. It can take upwards of 6-12 months for gear to begin to break down. During this time, gear targets non-target species and target species. As lobster and ground fish enter the trap they slowly die, rebating the trap and we call this the baiting cycle.
It's important that all gear be removed from the water after each season.
Finding Ways to Reuse Rope!
Rope associated with the fishing industry is a major problem, and it’s something CBEA has been addressing on a volunteer basis.
Fish harvesters change their rope every 2-3 years. With nowhere to recycle used rope it's sent to the landfill, taking up precious space.
Thousands of pounds of rope wash ashore
each year, due to a variety of reasons.
We send as much rope as we can to a small business in St. Peters called Tuesday's Stuff to be re-purposed, with plans to establish a sustainable rope recycling program in the near future.
Surveying For Marine Debris in the Bras d'Or Lakes
The Bras d’Or Lakes located in Nova Scotia consists of a salt-water estuary watershed ‘inland sea ‘with three passages to the Atlantic Ocean. There is a small lobster fishery and a wide range of recreational activities taking place in and around the Lakes.
To better understand the scope of marine debris in the Bras d’Or Lakes estuary 30-minute surveys were completed on 11 shorelines along the BDL.