Taking an innovative approach to fishing gear: Local projects in Nova Scotia take up the challenge!

News release

Taking an innovative approach to fishing gear: Local projects in Nova Scotia take up the challenge!
Minister Wilkinson meets with local plastics challenge grant recipient in Nova Scotia

April 10, 2019

Ottawa, Ontario - Each year, more than eight million metric tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans. A major contributor to plastic waste is lost and abandoned fishing gear, also known as ghost gear. Ghost gear is one of the deadliest forms of plastic debris, and has a damaging impact on marine animals like whales and turtles, the coastal and marine environment, and global fishing stocks.

The Government of Canada is committed to working with global partners, industry and communities to find real solutions to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans. That is why Fisheries and Oceans Canada has challenged small businesses across Canada to find innovative ways to prevent plastic waste from entering our aquatic environments, to help clean up our oceans and waterways, and to minimize impacts of ghost gear. Through our two plastics challenges, under the Innovative Solutions Canada program, we sought out innovative Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs to develop new technologies.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced two local Nova Scotia businesses which are among the first to receive grants from Fisheries and Oceans Canada for their innovative solutions to minimize the loss of fishing gear and upcycling or repurposing old fishing gear into useful products.

  • Ashored Innovations Ltd. is receiving a grant of $102,000 to design a low-cost acoustically activated ropeless fishing system 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 and which pieces are connected together, resulting in a high gear recovery rate.
  • 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.


“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. We are pleased to help support these small businesses and look forward to more companies developing novel solutions to commercialize innovation while contributing to environmental sustainability.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Our government leverages its enormous purchasing power to ensure Canadian small businesses can grow and innovate. We’re turning to Canadians for their best ideas to solve government challenges. Whether it’s about finding ways to improve plastic wood lumber products or making fishing systems safer, we’re investing in Canadian-made solutions.”

The Honourable Navdeep Bains the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and employ over 8 million hard-working Canadians. That’s why our government is committed to helping small businesses start up, scale up and access new markets. Innovative Solutions Canada is a fantastic program that uses government procurement to help small businesses innovate and then commercialize their innovations. Congratulations to these businesses. I can’t wait to see the innovative solutions they come up with.”

The Honourable Mary Ng, the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion,

“There are significant opportunities for our coastal communities in a changing global market that places a high value on sustainably sourced seafood. To benefit from these changes, fishermen need practical tools that work when and where they do. Thanks to funding partners like Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ashored is working with fishermen in each region to first understand and then deliver on the tools they need to thrive in this new age of fishing.”

Aaron Stevenson, Co-Founder and CEO of Ashored Inc.

“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. 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.”

Dan Chassie, Owner of Goodwood Plastic Products

Quick facts

  • Each year, globally, it is estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the oceans. This is like dumping the content of one garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute.

  • Every year, 640,000 tons of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (or ghost gear) enters our oceans. Ghost gear can persist in the environment for up to 600 years.

  • 92% of encounters between marine animals and debris can cause lethal problems, including ingestion and entanglement.

  • In support of the Government of Canada’s Greening Government Strategy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard became the first federal Department to reduce the purchase and use of single-use plastics by implementing the Policy to Restrict the Procurement and Use of Single-Use Plastic.

  • As part of our G7 Presidency last year, Canada led in the development of the Oceans Plastics Charter, an international effort to reduce plastics in our oceans.

Associated links


Jocelyn Lubczuk
Press Secretary 
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 

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