CSAR awarded over $1 million to retrieve ghost gear
Friday, June 9, 2023

The Marine Institute’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources (CSAR) was awarded more than $1 million in funding from the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Ghost Gear Fund to locate and retrieve fishing gear lost last fall during Hurricane Fiona.MI ghost gear team

The one-year project begins this week with community engagement along the southwest coast of the island of Newfoundland, where MI staff and students will work with harvesters, Indigenous groups and other community leaders.

Mapping ghost gear

Using a combination of side-scan sonar, multi-beam sonar and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) inspection tools, the team will detect and remove fishing gear from harbours, coves and bays this summer. The resulting debris will be sorted, returned to owners if possible and responsibly recycled.

“I’m really looking forward to engaging with the people of southwest Newfoundland who were affected by Hurricane Fiona and offer the best help we can to retrieve their lost gear,” said Mark Santos, senior fisheries technologist with the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources.

“This is a very important project and the Marine Institute aims to play a significant role in ghost gear cleanup here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Using smart technology, we can target and retrieve lost gear without causing further damage to our ocean floor.”

Mr. Santos, who has more than 15 years’ experience in applied fisheries research, is leading the project.

Project partners

Project partners are the Fishing Gear Coalition of Atlantic Canada (FGCAC), American Iron and Metal, Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association and Real-Time Ocean Data Services Ltd.

The project will cover a portion of the Gulf of St. Lawrence between Cape St. George on the Port au Port Peninsula and the Town of Codroy.Gear and ROV

The team includes Mr. Santos, ocean mapping student Charles Stagg and marine environmental technology students Samuel Mahon and John James, as well as support from the MI’s Centre for Applied Ocean Technology.

Retrieved gear depots

Salvageable gear, such as lobster pots and crab pots, will be securely stored until it is returned to harvesters.

Mr. Santos says a collection site for the recycling of ghost gear will also be set up near the community of St. George’s in partnership with FGCAC. This site will be open to anyone interested in recycling fishing gear.

For more information about the project, contact Mark Santos at