The Dual Impact: Fishing Industry Support and Right Whale Conservation through Gear Lending

The Dual Impact: Fishing Industry Support and Right Whale Conservation through Gear Lending

The CanFish gear-lending program, instituted in 2022 with federal funding, emerged as a beacon of innovation, offering a lifeline to fishermen navigating the intricate challenges posed by fishery closures due to right whale sightings.

In the picturesque setting of Tingish Harbour, Alden Gaudet's extraordinary snow crab catch not only marked a successful day in the fishing industry but also unveiled a pivotal moment in the delicate balance between economic activities and environmental conservation. The CanFish gear-lending program, instituted in 2022 with federal funding, emerged as a beacon of innovation, offering a lifeline to fishermen navigating the intricate challenges posed by fishery closures due to right whale sightings.

The story unfolds against the backdrop of the Atlantic waters, where snow crabs thrive, and where Gaudet, a seasoned fisherman, found himself facing a fishery closure. The closure, triggered by the sighting of endangered right whales, brings to light the critical need for adaptive solutions in the fishing industry. In this context, the CanFish program stands out as a revolutionary initiative that addresses the financial constraints associated with adopting advanced ropeless gear.

Ropeless gear, a cutting-edge technology designed to eliminate the traditional buoy and line systems, represents a paradigm shift in sustainable fishing practices. However, the high costs and frequent innovations in this relatively new technology make it a challenge for individual fishers to embrace. CanFish steps into this gap, providing fishers with access to whale-safe ropeless gear, thereby promoting responsible fishing practices in areas frequented by right whales.

Beyond its role in facilitating gear access, CanFish serves as an advocate for the fishing community. Alden Gaudet's experience exemplifies the program's significance in allowing him to continue fishing despite the closure, thereby maintaining his livelihood and minimizing the environmental impact associated with extended travel distances.

However, the CanFish program extends beyond merely providing gear. It actively engages with fishermen, offering support in navigating the complexities of obtaining specific permits required for using ropeless gear in closure areas. This comprehensive approach aligns seamlessly with the Canadian Wildlife Federation's broader initiatives around right whale detection and conservation, creating a holistic ecosystem for sustainable fishing.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) underscores the collaborative spirit through the Whalesafe Gear Trials Results Symposium, emphasizing the importance of identifying the safest and most effective whale-safe gear options for each fishery. The declining population of right whales, facing threats such as entanglement and ship strikes, underscores the urgency of protective measures and the critical role played by initiatives like CanFish.

The historical struggles of right whales, stretching back centuries, are interconnected with the CanFish program's contemporary solution. By fostering collaboration between the fishing industry and conservation, CanFish becomes a tangible representation of hope for a harmonious coexistence with right whales.

In conclusion, the CanFish gear lending program stands not only as a practical solution but as a transformative force in the fishing industry. It cultivates collaboration, gathers valuable feedback, and transfers knowledge within the fishing community, creating a ripple effect that benefits both the industry and the conservation of right whales.

Source: Cloe Logan (Nov 28, 2023). How a gear lending program is helping the fishing industry and protecting right whales. Canada National Observer. https://www.nationalobserver.com/2023/11/28/news/how-gear-lending-program-helping-fishing-industry-right-whales

Picture: Snow crab fishers using whale-safe gear borrowed through CanFish. Photo by the Canadian Wildlife Federation