New CWF program helps Atlantic fish harvesters transition to whalesafe gear

Halifax, N.S., July 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) is pleased to announce that it has received $4.4 million from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund to establish the CanFish gear lending program to help recover the North Atlantic Right Whale while sustaining commercial fisheries.

“Canada, in partnership with hardworking fish harvesters and partners like CWF, continues to be a world leader in protecting these beautiful, environmentally and culturally important animals,” said Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and Member of Parliament for Halifax. “I am pleased that from 2021 to 2023, DFO has provided $18.6 million to 34 projects through the Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund. This includes $4.4 million to CWF to help harvesters in their transition to whalesafe gear in Atlantic Canada, so we can support healthy whale populations and sustainable fisheries.”


  • CWF’s CanFish program currently has more than 70 units of six different ropeless systems and expects to add a further 20 units.
  • By using CanFish equipment, 10 snow crab fish harvesters removed more than 800 buoylines from the ocean, reducing the risk of entangling large whales while being allowed to fish in areas that had been off-limits to traditional fishing gear.
  • CWF has engaged more than 100 fish harvesters throughout the Maritimes in trialing low-breaking strength rope modifications in order to prepare for new regulations that will require their use starting in 2023.

The CanFish gear lending program would not be possible without the support of the federal government.  Funding for the CanFish program is set to end in March 2023. CWF is hopeful it will continue to support healthy whale populations and sustainable fisheries.

“The CanFISH gear lending program is three months old and has already replaced over 800 buoylines that could have entangled whales with new rope-on-demand gear,” said Sean Brillant, CWF Senior Conservation Biologist, Marine Programs. “This has prevented the displacement of fish harvesters, allowing them to fish for crab within closed areas at no risk to right whales.”

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For more information on the DFO Whalesafe Gear Adoption Fund:

About the Canadian Wildlife Federation:

The Canadian Wildlife Federation is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, carrying out research, developing and delivering education programs, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending changes to policy and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. For more information visit



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