Fishermen say the discovery of two whales entangled in rope from abandoned crab pots, one off Petty Harbour and another in Placentia Bay, show the danger of lost and abandoned fishing gear, also known as “ghost gear.”

Members of the Petty Harbour Fishermen’s Co-operative were working to retrieve ghost gear in the ocean from Cape St. Francis to Cape Pine last weekend.

Billy Lee, president of the co-op, says they have a two-year contract with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for 12 boats to remove the gear from the ocean.

Not only is ghost gear a major source of plastic and litter in the ocean, it can be dangerous to marine life.

On Saturday, Lee said they would haul thousands of pounds of rope, crab pots and gill nets over the long weekend.

 “It’s continually fishing,” he said.

“And the gill nets, they’re full of crab and sea stars and whatever kind of fish might get tangled up,” said Lee. 

“Basically, it’s pretty dangerous for the fish.” 

Tragically, Bernard Chafe found a dead whale, possibly a young humpback or a minke, tangled in rope and abandoned crab pots they retrieved from the water Saturday.

“We think it was only tangled for the last two or three days,” Chafe said of the young whale, which he estimates was about 22 feet long.

Chafe says they were disappointed to find the whale, but said they’re hopeful that retrieving the lost gear will prevent the same situation from happening again.