Submersible craft catches ‘ghost’ fishing gear on Prince Rupert ocean floor
The ecologically sensitive seabed near Prince Rupert received a much-needed cleanup of problematic ‘ghost’ gear this spring.
Ghost fishing gear, such as lost nets and traps, can entangle fish, marine mammals and birds and damage sensitive marine habitats and boats. Nanaimo-based underwater technology company Seamor Marine Ltd. has sent one of its remotely operated vehicles on a cleanup mission to Lax Kw’alaams traditional marine territory to deal with it.
Lax Kw’alaams Fishing Enterprises and Shift Environmental Technologies surveyed the area and mapped concentrations of ghost gear. Then, to recover abandoned crab pots, the team deployed a Seamor Chinook ROV with tether and an assortment of modular attachments. The ROV’s multibeam sonar and acoustic positioning system helped locate the debris in low visibility conditions.
Chains of crab pots were located with towed or hull-mounted side-scan sonar. Contact sites were revisited with the ROV to obtain video footage of the targets, determine if they were recoverable, and identify crab trap rope locations. Then a grappling hook was dragged through the lines to be retrieved.
The ROV helped recover 630 kilograms of lost and abandoned fishing gear. The Port Edward Harbor Authority provided cleaning and storage facilities for recovered gear.
The two-year project was a joint venture between Lax Kw’alaams Fishing Enterprises and Shift Environmental with funding from the federal government, the First Nations Solid Waste Management Initiative and the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation. .
“It is exciting to see that the removal of ghost gear from Indigenous marine territories is a government priority,” said Robin Li, president of Seamor Marine, in the press release. “We are proud that our Chinook ROV has played a vital role in responsibly recovering and disposing of equipment, as well as developing best practices and providing ghost equipment data for future recovery operations. The Lax Kw’alaams community depends on its marine environment, so it is imperative to keep these ecosystems clean and healthy.
Seamor designs and manufactures remotely operated vehicles and modular accessories for underwater observation and inspection.