Two Nova Scotia businesses are among the first to receive grants from Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the Innovative Solutions Canada program for their pioneering projects to minimize the loss of fishing gear and for repurposing old fishing gear into useful products.
Goodwood Plastic Products Ltd. is receiving a grant of $103,000 to improve properties of plastic wood lumber products by incorporating end-of-life fishing nets and ropes, providing a solution for fishing gear at the end of its lifecycle. The grant will help the company develop a commercial-scale facility capable of recycling fishing nets and ropes into a viable value-added enhanced plastic wood lumber commercial product.
“This grant will help Goodwood Plastic Products to further develop our made-in-Nova Scotia solution to the worldwide problem of plastic waste by adding value to end-of-life fishing gear such as ropes and nets, said Dan Chassie, owner of Goodwood Plastic Products in a press release.
“Rather than being dumped in a landfill or even worse, ending up as marine debris, these plastic resources can be manufactured into durable, long-lasting boards and timbers that can be used to build safe and functional harbour infrastructure, further supporting the commercial fishing industry in Atlantic Canada.”
Ashored Innovations Ltd. is receiving a grant of $102,000 to further design their low-cost acoustically activated ropeless fishing and gear tracking system for use in the lobster and crab fisheries. The ropeless system will minimize gear loss and damage by preventing conflict with other gear, vessels and marine life, containing ropes and buoy on the seafloor until released. The gear tracking system will record the deployment and recovery locations of the gear.
“In our modern world, the economy and the environment must go hand in hand. We know that lost and abandoned fishing gear harms marine life and has damaging environmental and economic impacts for our coastal communities and industries. The innovative solutions offered by Ashored Innovations and Goodwood Plastics Products are great examples of how small business opportunities spark innovation and hopefully inspire other businesses to rise to the challenge, said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard when announcing the funding.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada challenged small businesses across Canada to find innovative ways to prevent plastic waste from entering aquatic environments, to help clean up oceans and waterways, and to minimize impacts of ghost gear, through two plastics challenges under the Innovative Solutions Canada program.
It is estimated that eight million metric tonnes of plastic waste enters the oceans globally each year, including an estimated 640 ,000 tonnes of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear, which can persist in the environment for up to 600 years. Ninety-two per cent of encounters between marine animals and debris can cause lethal problems, including ingestion and entanglement.