A Ghostly Issue: Managing abandoned, lost, and discarded lobster fishing gear in the Bay of Fundy
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Abandoned, lost, and discarded (ALD) fishing gear contributes to economic losses across fisheries and can be a significant hazard to conservation and safety at-sea. Lobster fishers (n = 32) and management agencies (n = 5) were interviewed from the Bay of Fundy in the Scotia-Fundy Region to determine how to estimate and mitigate ALD fishing gear. Results show that fishers across all lobster fishing areas (LFAs) regularly lost gear and that it was not always retrieved, although fishers informally notify each other of gear that was lost and often returned gear that was found. Fishers will, however, avoid retrieving old gear that is unidentifiable, because possession of this gear is prohibited by their licenses. New regulations to manage ALD are expected in the coming years, but through these interviews, regulatory and community-based solutions were identified that can potentially help estimate and mitigate ALD fishing gear. Keywords: lobster; Bay of Fundy; fishing gear; ghost gear; marine debris; fisher; community-based management; decision-making; fisheries management.