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Local organization set to help fish harvesters switch to whalesafe gear

Only three months old, the CanFISH gear lending program has "already replaced over 800 buoylines that could have entangled whales," says CWF's Sean Brillant
A North Atlantic right whale entangled in fishing line from the film, 'Last of the Right Whales'

A Halifax-based organization has received $4.4 million from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund to establish a program aimed at fish harvesters transition to safer equipment.

The not-for-profit Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) received the funding to establish the CanFish gear lending program to help recover the North Atlantic Right Whale while sustaining commercial fisheries.

“Canada, in partnership with hardworking fish harvesters and partners like CWF, continues to be a world leader in protecting these beautiful, environmentally and culturally important animals,” says Halifax MP Andy Fillmore, who made the statement in a news release.

“I am pleased that from 2021 to 2023, DFO has provided $18.6 million to 34 projects through the Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund. This includes $4.4 million to CWF to help harvesters in their transition to whalesafe gear in Atlantic Canada, so we can support healthy whale populations and sustainable fisheries.”

Based in Halifax, the CanFish Gear Lending Program supports the Atlantic fishing industry by providing and helping fish harvesters trial gear modifications and on-demand technologies to determine what is suitable for fisheries and fishing conditions.

Among its trial gear is rope on-demand which, according to their website, can be “used to leave something on the ocean floor and retrieve it at another time without leaving a persistent line in the water column.”

“The CanFISH gear lending program is three months old and has already replaced over 800 buoylines that could have entangled whales with new rope-on-demand gear,” notes Sean Brillant, CWF Senior Conservation Biologist, Marine Programs in a news release.

“This has prevented the displacement of fish harvesters, allowing them to fish for crab within closed areas at no risk to right whales.”

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