Canada’s minister of public services and procurement and accessibility, Carla Qualtrough, announced that two businesses based in British Columbia (B.C.) are each receiving a grant from Fisheries and Oceans Canada for their innovative solutions to minimize plastic pollution.

Each year, more than eight million metric tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans. Abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear (known as ghost fishing gear) is a major contributor to plastic marine debris. The impact of marine debris on wildlife is significant, with World Animal Protection reporting that 92 per cent of encounters between marine animals and debris, including ghost fishing gear, can be lethal, primarily due to ingestion or entanglement.

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 challenged small businesses across Canada to find innovative ways to prevent plastic waste from entering aquatic environments, to help clean up our oceans and waterways, and to minimize impacts of marine debris and ghost fishing gear. Through its two plastics challenges, under the Innovative Solutions Canada program, the Government of Canada sought out innovative Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs to develop new technologies.

“Through the government’s plastics challenges, we’ve seen small Canadian companies such as Ocean Legacy Technologies and Shift Environmental Technologies develop innovative solutions to protect our natural resources,” said Carla Qualtrough, Canada’s minister of public services and procurement and accessibility.” We know that the long-term economic prosperity of coastal communities depends on the sustainability of our oceans and the actions we take to protect them. The innovative projects announced today [September 3, 2019] are just one part of the Government of Canada’s actions to reduce plastic waste from our environment for generations to come.”

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Ocean Legacy Technologies received $150,000 from the Government of Canada towards the development of proof-of concept for a marine plastics processing facility. Using innovative technology, this facility will allow the plastics from fishing and aquaculture equipment to be recycled, including plastics with organic or non-organic contamination, and those found during shoreline clean-ups.

Shift Environmental Technologies received $95,000 to develop proof of concept for an innovative Marine Debris Sled to extract and remove marine debris and ghost fishing gear from remote and hard to access coastal areas, safely and more cost-effectively than current methods. The innovative sled would deploy from a ship or land-based center to the beach head by tow vessel, and would be loaded with marine debris before being towed to a collection point.

This announcement builds on the Government of Canada’s announcement to ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021 and hold companies responsible for plastic waste.

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