Government of Canada launches new $20 million fund to make fishing gear safer for whales 

News release

August 11, 2021 

Ottawa, Ontario - Entanglements in fishing gear can pose serious harm to whales and other marine mammals. They can impact the animal’s ability to swim, eat, and reproduce, and they can be fatal. That is why the Government of Canada is working to prevent these entanglement risks from occurring, including by requiring all non-tended, fixed-gear fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Quebec to use whalesafe gear by the beginning of the 2023 fishing seasons.

These new gear requirements, such as weak breaking points and low breaking strength rope, will make it easier for large whales to free themselves from fishing gear, which will help reduce the severity and duration of entanglements.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, announced the new $20 million Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund, which will help harvesters in Atlantic Canada and Quebec adopt whalesafe gear into their commercial fishing operations.

Over the next two years, this funding will be available to support Indigenous and non-indigenous harvesters, not-for-profit organizations, academia and other partners to purchase, test and refine existing whalesafe gear, such as low breaking strength rope and ropeless gear technology, with the goal of making them operational by 2023. The Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund will also provide support to Canadian manufacturers to encourage domestic supply of commercially-ready whalesafe gear by 2023.

Interested applicants can apply for funding as of August 13, 2021. Up to $10 million in funding is available during this first call of proposals. An additional round of funding of up to $10 million will also be available for 2022, with the application process starting later this year. More information on how to apply for funding will be available on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website: Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund (


“Canada’s whale-protection measures are world-class, and their success always comes down to the hard work and cooperation of fish harvesters. This program is another huge step forward in our shared efforts. By supporting our industry partners to implement new, whale-safe gear, we’re investing in our seafood sector, and building a stronger, more sustainable Blue Economy for Canadians.”

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick facts

  • In February 2020, Minister Jordan announced that all non-tended, fixed gear fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Quebec are required to use certain whalesafe gear by the beginning of 2022 to help further protect North Atlantic right whales. In February 2021, this deadline changed to 2023 due to operational impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Canada is taking many actions to prevent whale entanglements, including adjusting the times of fishing seasons, implementing seasonal and temporary fishing area closures where whales are present, and removing harmful ghost gear from our waters.  

  • There were no new North Atlantic right whale entanglements or deaths in Canadian waters in 2020. 

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada and partners are currently monitoring two entangled North Atlantic right whales in Canadian waters: Eg #3560 (Snow Cone), which was reported entangled in the United States in March 2021; and, Eg #4615, which is Canada’s first reported North Atlantic right whale entanglement since 2019. 

Associated links


Olivia McMakin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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