OTTAWA — Canada is committing to help rid the world’s oceans of millions of tonnes of old fishing nets.
Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says Canada is the newest signatory to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative as part of an ongoing anti-plastics push at a meeting of environment ministers from G7 nations this week in Halifax.
Fishing gear is a far bigger issue to the ocean garbage problem than plastic straws, water bottles and grocery bags, but often flies under the radar as governments and environment groups focus on items that will get more attention from businesses and consumers.
Josey Kitson, executive director of World Animal Protection Canada, which helped found the ghost gear initiative in 2015, says Canada is the 13th country to join and a great first step that she hopes will be followed with specific action.
Wilkinson says there isn’t yet a good understanding of how much Canadian fishing equipment is among the estimated 640,000 tonnes of gear that gets lost or abandoned to the seas each year.
He says the government is considering ways to tag equipment so it can be traced back to its origin, and looking at updating regulations that currently prevent people from removing abandoned fishing gear when they find it in Canadian waters.
The Canadian Press