The ecologically sensitive seafloor near Prince Rupert got a much-needed scrubbing of problematic ‘ghost’ gear this spring.
Ghost fishing gear, such as lost nets and traps, can entangle fish, marine mammals and birds as well as damage sensitive marine life habitat and boats. The Nanaimo-based undersea tech company Seamor Marine Ltd. sent one of its remotely operated vehicles on a clean-up mission in Lax Kw’alaams traditional marine territory to deal with it.
Lax Kw’alaams Fishing Enterprises and Shift Environmental Technologies surveyed the area and mapped ghost gear concentrations. Then, to retrieve abandoned crab pots, the team deployed a Seamor Chinook ROV with a tether and an assortment of modular attachments. The ROV’s multi-beam sonar and acoustic positioning system helped locate the debris in low-visibility conditions.
Strings of crab pots were located with a towed or hull-mounted side-scan sonar. Contact sites were revisited with the ROV to get video footage of the targets, determine whether they were retrievable, and identify the locations of the the crab pot strings. Then a grapple was dragged through the lines for retrieval.
The ROV helped to retrieve 630 kilograms of lost and abandoned fishing gear. Port Edward Harbour Authority provided cleaning and storage facilities for the retrieved gear.
The project, two years in the making, was a joint venture between Lax Kw’alaams Fishing Enterprises and Shift Environmental with funding from the federal government, First Nations Solid Waste Management Initiative and the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation.
“It’s exciting to see that ghost gear removal in Indigenous marine territories is a government priority,” said Robin Li, president of Seamor Marine, in the press release. “We’re proud that our Chinook ROV played an integral role to retrieve and dispose of the gear responsibly as well as develop best practices and provide ghost gear data for future recovery operations. The Lax Kw’alaams community relies on their marine environment, so it’s imperative to keep these ecosystems clean and healthy.”
Seamor designs and manufactures underwater observation- and inspection-class remotely operated vehicles and modular accessories.