'We've lost a brother': Robert Costello remembered by former colleague

One of the two Fredericton police officers who died in the shooting that also killed two civilians Friday morning is being remembered as a constant source of cheer by a friend and former colleague.

Lawrence Robert Costello, 45, was a 20-year police veteran and is survived by his partner and four children.

This morning the most amazing man kissed me goodbye as he headed to work. This evening, I lay in our bed knowing that kiss will never happen again.

—@jackiesteeves

Dean Secord, past president of the New Brunswick Police Association, became friends with Costello while they served on the executive together.

“He was always cheerful, no matter what was going on, [he] was always the person thinking positive. It was great working with him,” said Secord.

Secord retired from the Saint John Police Force in March after serving for nearly 30 years.

As he and Costello got to know each other, they realized they had both gone to school in Sussex together.

Dean Secord, past president of the New Brunswick Police Association, says Robb always had a positive attitude. (CBC)

Secord said the news of his friend’s death Friday mid-morning was difficult, and he spent the day remembering Costello.

“I’ve got a knot in my stomach and it won’t go away” said Secord. 

Secord said the loss is compounded by the fact that Costello was so positive and wanted to make change in the community.

“It’s a big loss, not only to the policing community,” said Secord. “We’ve lost a friend. We’ve lost a brother.”

Secord acknowledged that he is just one of many people who cared for Costello. He said his heart goes out to both his and Sara Burns’ friends, colleagues, and family.

Burns is the other police officer who was killed in the shooting on Friday. Burns, 43, joined the Fredericton Police Force in 2016 but previously served as an auxiliary officer for two years. She was married with three children.

Secord said he hasn’t reached out to Costello’s family yet, despite having met his partner a few times. He said he doesn’t want to overwhelm them but will reach out in due time.

Police officers Robert Costello, 45, and Sara Burns, 43 were killed in the north-side shooting in Fredericton on Friday morning. (Fredericton Police Force/Twitter)

“Somebody has lost a son and a husband and a father. And a wife, and a mother. So it’s a big loss overall to the community.”

He said it will be a tough time in Fredericton over the next few weeks.

“We’ll grieve, we’ll get through this horrible tragedy,” said Secord. “Robb’s now looking down upon us.”

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Suspect in custody after Brookside Drive-area shooting leaves at least 4 people dead

One suspect is in custody in connection with an early-morning shooting in a residential area of Fredericton that has left at least four people dead.

Police are telling residents to avoid the Brookside Drive area as they “investigate an ongoing incident.” They confirmed in a tweet there were four fatalities.

“More information will be available when we can confirm,” Fredericton police tweeted. 

Fredericton emergency response crews were escorting people out of the area. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Police also asked that the public not post any information about the position or activities of police or first responders.

“We are still working an active incident. We will release confirmed information as soon as we can,” police said.

IMPORTANT: Please do not post information about the position or activities of police or first responders. <br><br>We are still working an active incident. We will release confirmed information as soon as we can.

&mdash;@CityFredPolice

Shortly before 9 a.m., 237 Brookside Drive in Fredericton was evacuated by police.

Christopher Gill woke up to a number of police officers and the sound of gunshots outside his apartment at 237 Brookside Dr.

“I looked out the window and there were three police cars on the street just across from where I live,” he said. “I saw one cop just standing against the building … like he was waiting for somebody to come out.”

Numerous emergency response personnel responded to the shooting Friday morning and remain at the scene. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

On Twitter, Horizon Health Network said Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital is on high alert, and is prepared to receive any victims and help the community in any way needed.

Premier Brian Gallant also tweeted, “We are all shocked and saddened to learn this morning of the ongoing tragic incident in Fredericton.”

Several police, firefighters and paramedics converged on the scene of a shooting early Friday in the Brookside Drive area of Fredericton. (Nathalie Sturgeon)

Gallant offered condolences, thoughts and prayers to victims and their families. 

“During this difficult time, our thoughts are also with the courageous women and men on the front lines working to keep us safe,” he said.

At this time, I would ask New Brunswickers, particularly those in areas identified by police, to keep informed about the situation as it develops and follow the instructions of law enforcement officials working in the area.

&mdash;@BrianGallantNB

CBC contacted employees at the Tim Hortons on Douglas Avenue and they said they have locked their doors so customers can’t exit or enter.

We at <a href=”https://twitter.com/HfxRegPolice?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@HfxRegPolice</a> are following the situation in Fredericton this morning. I have spoken to Chief Fitch personally to offer her any support we can give. We stand with <a href=”https://twitter.com/CityFredPolice?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CityFredPolice</a> while they deal with this situation.

&mdash;@JMBlais1

Robert DiDiodato lives on Oakland Avenue, which connects to Brookside Drive along the city’s north side.

The Fredericton resident said he heard a series of “firecracker” sounds around 7 a.m.

Fredericton police had some streets in the area blocked off. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

“With the tempo, it might’ve been a gunshot,” he said. “It was sort of like a pop, pop, pop, pop.”

About five minutes later, he could hear similar noises near his home.

“Doors are locked and everybody’s inside,” he said.

Several police, firefighters and paramedics remain at the scene.

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Suspect in custody after Brookside Drive-area shooting leaves at least 4 people dead

One suspect is in custody in connection with an early-morning shooting in a residential area of Fredericton that has left at least four people dead.

Police are telling residents to avoid the Brookside Drive area as they “investigate an ongoing incident.” They confirmed in a tweet there were four fatalities.

“More information will be available when we can confirm,” Fredericton police tweeted. 

Fredericton emergency response crews were escorting people out of the area. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Police also asked that the public not post any information about the position or activities of police or first responders.

“We are still working an active incident. We will release confirmed information as soon as we can,” police said.

IMPORTANT: Please do not post information about the position or activities of police or first responders. <br><br>We are still working an active incident. We will release confirmed information as soon as we can.

&mdash;@CityFredPolice

Shortly before 9 a.m., 237 Brookside Drive in Fredericton was evacuated by police.

Christopher Gill woke up to a number of police officers and the sound of gunshots outside his apartment at 237 Brookside Dr.

“I looked out the window and there were three police cars on the street just across from where I live,” he said. “I saw one cop just standing against the building … like he was waiting for somebody to come out.”

Numerous emergency response personnel responded to the shooting Friday morning and remain at the scene. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

On Twitter, Horizon Health Network said Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital is on high alert, and is prepared to receive any victims and help the community in any way needed.

Premier Brian Gallant also tweeted, “We are all shocked and saddened to learn this morning of the ongoing tragic incident in Fredericton.”

Several police, firefighters and paramedics converged on the scene of a shooting early Friday in the Brookside Drive area of Fredericton. (Nathalie Sturgeon)

Gallant offered condolences, thoughts and prayers to victims and their families. 

“During this difficult time, our thoughts are also with the courageous women and men on the front lines working to keep us safe,” he said.

At this time, I would ask New Brunswickers, particularly those in areas identified by police, to keep informed about the situation as it develops and follow the instructions of law enforcement officials working in the area.

&mdash;@BrianGallantNB

CBC contacted employees at the Tim Hortons on Douglas Avenue and they said they have locked their doors so customers can’t exit or enter.

We at <a href=”https://twitter.com/HfxRegPolice?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@HfxRegPolice</a> are following the situation in Fredericton this morning. I have spoken to Chief Fitch personally to offer her any support we can give. We stand with <a href=”https://twitter.com/CityFredPolice?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CityFredPolice</a> while they deal with this situation.

&mdash;@JMBlais1

Robert DiDiodato lives on Oakland Avenue, which connects to Brookside Drive along the city’s north side.

The Fredericton resident said he heard a series of “firecracker” sounds around 7 a.m.

Fredericton police had some streets in the area blocked off. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

“With the tempo, it might’ve been a gunshot,” he said. “It was sort of like a pop, pop, pop, pop.”

About five minutes later, he could hear similar noises near his home.

“Doors are locked and everybody’s inside,” he said.

Several police, firefighters and paramedics remain at the scene.

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North Atlantic right whale disentangled 1 week after being spotted

A 10-year-old North Atlantic right whale that was spotted entangled on July 30 has been freed of the fishing gear by a Department of Fisheries vessel and the Campobello Whale Rescue Team.

It was spotted by the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station Sunday afternoon.

A news release from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it isn’t clear whether all the fishing gear had been removed but the whale was displaying positive changes in its behaviour.

The whale was first reported east of Grand Manan Island dragging an orange buoy. Department of Fisheries vessels, the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, and the Canadian Coast Guard were all involved in searching for the whale. 

“More will be known after reviewing photos and footage of the rescue,” the release said.

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Entangled right whale spotted in Bay of Fundy

Rescuers haven’t been able to get to a right whale entangled in the Bay of Fundy east of Grand Manan island because of a problem with their vessel and poor weather conditions, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The department said late Monday night that it had received a morning report of an entangled whale about 22 nautical miles east of Grand Manan.

It said the Campobello Whale Rescue Team has been hindered “due to an issue with their vessel and deteriorating weather conditions,” so has been unable to get to the whale to assess its condition.

It’s not clear when a rescue attempt may be made. DFO said the forecast shows poor weather conditions for the next day or two.

“At this time, representatives from the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station are standing by and tracking the whale.”

The department will continue to monitor the situation via aerial surveillance, and work with the rescue team and other partners to relocate the whale and assess its condition.

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Mogul the right whale's appearance off Iceland puzzles scientist

While it has happened before, seeing an Atlantic right whale swimming in waters off of Iceland is still rare.

But an Icelandic whale-watching crew spotted the right whale named Mogul three times this week, leaving a research scientist wondering why the animal ventured so far from its normal haunts along the eastern seaboard of Canada and the United States.

Philip Hamilton, a research scientist for the Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, said seeing a whale there is so rare it has only been noted five times since 1992 in the centre’s database. 

Hamilton, who has been studying the North Atlantic right whale since 1986, said three different whales were spotted those five times. 

“Two of them were reproductive females who we rarely see. We think there are some right whales who use other habitats [not] close to the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada.” 

Doesn’t fit the profile

Hamilton said he thinks some North Atlantic right whales might be going to Iceland routinely, but the one seen by the whale-watching crew doesn’t fit the profile. 

“He’s a 10-year old male we’ve been following quite closely since he was born,” he said. “He’s been seen every year, many times in many habitats and all of them are quite close to shore. 

“So, he really seems to be doing something different by being up there.” 

Mogul was born in 2008 to a whale named Slalom, has at least four siblings and also four nieces and nephews and was first seen off the southeast of the U.S., where most of the reproductive females are seen.

Since then, the whale has been seen in the Bay of Fundy and off Massachusetts. 

“So that’s his normal haunts,” said Hamilton, adding even though the right whales swim slowly, they can cover long distances.  

“Recently, right whales have had to go further distances to find food because many of their usual feeding habitats have not been up to par.” 

Things are changing

Hamilton said the ocean is changing and right whales have to go farther to find good feeding grounds. 

“How he managed to find his way up there, who knows. We know the female right whales actually show their calves good places to go, but his mom has been a very coastal mom throughout her life, so how he found his way is a whole other question.” 

A whale-watching crew spotted a North Atlantic right whale named Mogul three times off the coast of Iceland, far from its usual feeding grounds. (Lisa Conger/Northeast Fisheries Science Center under NOAA Permit #17355)Hamilton said he thinks this is an indication that things are changing.

“The change in his sighting profiles suggest that it is a real change in behaviour.” 

An Icelandic whale watching crew came across a North Atlantic Right Whale. It’s not unheard of to see the endangered species in the area. But it’s rare. And Philip Hamilton, a research scientist with the New England Aquarium Center for Ocean Life, says this particular whale has roots in the Bay of Fundy. 7:13

Researchers studying the endangered species have numbered all of the whales and named some of them. Photographs from sightings, along with related information, go into the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog as a resource for researchers.

Tracking the majority of the population of North Atlantic right whales, and where they feed and congregate, is becoming a problem in the last eight years, Hamilton said.

There are more than 100 right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the only concentration of right whales they know of Hamilton said. 

“There are about 450 right whales left, so that leaves 350 unaccounted for. So it’s a large chunk of the population that we’re not able to track at the moment.” 

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Outlaw biker gangs building roots in Atlantic Canada

Two rival motorcycle gangs have had at least five violent clashes in New Brunswick over the last year and a half, according to new information from a Nova Scotia police unit that investigates outlaw motorcycle gangs.

But police won’t comment on the nature of the alleged violence between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws, bitter rivals competing for territory in an eastern expansion.

Both clubs have spent the last few years establishing roots in Atlantic Canada, starting with the Angels, the largest and most powerful motorcycle gang in Canada.

Aside from being untapped territory, the Angels are likely interested in the region because of its port access, said Julian Sher, an author who has written several books on the Angels.

“If you’re in the trafficking business, why wouldn’t you want to be next to a port?” Sher said.

The Angels have a chapter of Nomads in New Brunswick made up of several high-ranking, full-patch members transplanted to the province without creating a formal clubhouse.

On Canada Day, the organization also opened up new Moncton and Halifax chapters of a club called the Red Devils, according to a presentation created by Nova Scotia’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

Made up of officers from police agencies across Nova Scotia, the unit is focused on investigating biker gangs.

Members of the unit gave the presentation at a regular meeting of the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners earlier this month.

A new chapter

This map of “violence” was presented at the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners meeting. (Nova Scotia RCMP/Halifax Board of Police Commissioners)

In the presentation, RCMP Const. Scott Morrison characterized the Red Devils as the top “friend club” internationally for the Angels.

While members of support clubs will often attend Angels events and wear official clothing, friend clubs actually do bidding for the parent club, Morrison said, which could range from collecting debts to drug trafficking and violence.

If they’ve set up shop in Halifax and Moncton, it’s a sign of growing Hells Angels influence in the east.– Julian Sher

The Red Devils could be considered a minor league or farm team for the Angels. Those clubs are typically made up of “younger, meaner” and sometimes less disciplined members than the big club, Sher said.

“If they’ve set up shop in Halifax and Moncton, it’s a sign of growing Hells Angels influence in the east,” he said.

The Outlaws operate in New Brunswick through the Black Pistons, a support club with a chapter in Fredericton, police say.

The Outlaws have long been a “thorn” in the Angels’ side.

“That’s just never good news when the Hells Angels and the Outlaws are in the same geographic territory,” Sher said.

Violent clashes

Julian Sher, the author of several books on the Hells Angels, says it’s never a good sign when the Outlaws and Angels are operating in the same geographic territory. (Julian Sher)

Violence erupted between Angels Quebec members and the Black Pistons somewhere in the Fredericton area in October 2016, according to a map of “violence” presented to Halifax’s police commissioners. 

The most recent incident happened in May, also in the Fredericton area, with Angels clashing directly with Outlaws members.

The map shows a total of four violent incidents in the Fredericton area, along with one clash in the eastern region of the province and one in Nova Scotia.

“A lot of it has been in New Brunswick because New Brunswick also has a Black Pistons chapter that has been established longer than [the Nova Scotia chapter],” Morrison told Halifax police commissioners.

The Fredericton Police Force declined an interview about the new information, saying the content wasn’t provided by Fredericton police “nor approved by the force,” referring questions to police in Nova Scotia.

The Outlaws Motorcycle Club is a bitter rival of the Hells Angels. Both have a presence in New Brunswick. (http://www.outlawsmc-canada.com/)

“We are aware of the presence of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs in our jurisdiction and the criminal element associated to organized crime,” spokesperson Alycia Bartlett wrote in an email.

CBC News contacted Nova Scotia RCMP, but that force referred questions to New Brunswick RCMP.

New Brunswick RCMP also declined an interview, saying it didn’t endorse the Halifax presentation and couldn’t comment on it.

Ongoing investigations

“The New Brunswick RCMP has not been called to any violent clashes between outlaw motorcycle gangs,” spokesperson Paul Greene wrote in an emailed statement.

Greene said New Brunswick RCMP have “ongoing criminal investigations” related to outlaw motorcycle gang activity but can’t discuss them.

Emery Joseph Martin, 57, of Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska, pictured here during a previous arrest, appeared in Bathurst provincial court via video conference in June. (Radio-Canada)

He pointed to the arrests of Robin Moulton and Emery (Pit) Martin as results the force has gotten so far in investigating outlaw motorcycle gang activity in New Brunswick.

Police allege Moulton is a full-patch member of Angels’ Nomads New Brunswick chapter and Martin, arrested in June, is a long-standing member of Angels Quebec.

Neither Moulton nor Martin have been convicted of the charges against them.

Greene also declined to comment on the investigation into the death of 50-year-old Ronald Gerald Richard, other than to say the investigation is continuing.

Richard, described by Moulton has the fallen president of a Angels support club called the Gatekeepers, was killed last July 24. In Nova Scotia, the Red Devils replaced the Gatekeepers club, but it’s not immediately clear if the same is true in New Brunswick.

Police have not made any arrests in Richard’s death.

Will try to ‘squeeze each other out’

Both Outlaws and Angels affiliates are competing over turf, but Sher said people shouldn’t panic just yet. Biker wars are rare in Canada and the gangs operate similar to businesses.

First, they’ll try to squeeze or buy each other other out, Sher said. They’ll try lower level intimidation.

But if that doesn’t work, “the violence could escalate.”

“If push comes to shove, they will fight for their territory,” he said.

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Outlaw biker gangs building roots in Atlantic Canada

Two rival motorcycle gangs have had at least five violent clashes in New Brunswick over the last year and a half, according to new information from a Nova Scotia police unit that investigates outlaw motorcycle gangs.

But police won’t comment on the nature of the alleged violence between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws, bitter rivals competing for territory in an eastern expansion.

Both clubs have spent the last few years establishing roots in Atlantic Canada, starting with the Angels, the largest and most powerful motorcycle gang in Canada.

Aside from being untapped territory, the Angels are likely interested in the region because of its port access, said Julian Sher, an author who has written several books on the Angels.

“If you’re in the trafficking business, why wouldn’t you want to be next to a port?” Sher said.

The Angels have a chapter of Nomads in New Brunswick made up of several high-ranking, full-patch members transplanted to the province without creating a formal clubhouse.

On Canada Day, the organization also opened up new Moncton and Halifax chapters of a club called the Red Devils, according to a presentation created by Nova Scotia’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

Made up of officers from police agencies across Nova Scotia, the unit is focused on investigating biker gangs.

Members of the unit gave the presentation at a regular meeting of the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners earlier this month.

A new chapter

This map of “violence” was presented at the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners meeting. (Nova Scotia RCMP/Halifax Board of Police Commissioners)

In the presentation, RCMP Const. Scott Morrison characterized the Red Devils as the top “friend club” internationally for the Angels.

While members of support clubs will often attend Angels events and wear official clothing, friend clubs actually do bidding for the parent club, Morrison said, which could range from collecting debts to drug trafficking and violence.

If they’ve set up shop in Halifax and Moncton, it’s a sign of growing Hells Angels influence in the east.– Julian Sher

The Red Devils could be considered a minor league or farm team for the Angels. Those clubs are typically made up of “younger, meaner” and sometimes less disciplined members than the big club, Sher said.

“If they’ve set up shop in Halifax and Moncton, it’s a sign of growing Hells Angels influence in the east,” he said.

The Outlaws operate in New Brunswick through the Black Pistons, a support club with a chapter in Fredericton, police say.

The Outlaws have long been a “thorn” in the Angels’ side.

“That’s just never good news when the Hells Angels and the Outlaws are in the same geographic territory,” Sher said.

Violent clashes

Julian Sher, the author of several books on the Hells Angels, says it’s never a good sign when the Outlaws and Angels are operating in the same geographic territory. (Julian Sher)

Violence erupted between Angels Quebec members and the Black Pistons somewhere in the Fredericton area in October 2016, according to a map of “violence” presented to Halifax’s police commissioners. 

The most recent incident happened in May, also in the Fredericton area, with Angels clashing directly with Outlaws members.

The map shows a total of four violent incidents in the Fredericton area, along with one clash in the eastern region of the province and one in Nova Scotia.

“A lot of it has been in New Brunswick because New Brunswick also has a Black Pistons chapter that has been established longer than [the Nova Scotia chapter],” Morrison told Halifax police commissioners.

The Fredericton Police Force declined an interview about the new information, saying the content wasn’t provided by Fredericton police “nor approved by the force,” referring questions to police in Nova Scotia.

The Outlaws Motorcycle Club is a bitter rival of the Hells Angels. Both have a presence in New Brunswick. (http://www.outlawsmc-canada.com/)

“We are aware of the presence of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs in our jurisdiction and the criminal element associated to organized crime,” spokesperson Alycia Bartlett wrote in an email.

CBC News contacted Nova Scotia RCMP, but that force referred questions to New Brunswick RCMP.

New Brunswick RCMP also declined an interview, saying it didn’t endorse the Halifax presentation and couldn’t comment on it.

Ongoing investigations

“The New Brunswick RCMP has not been called to any violent clashes between outlaw motorcycle gangs,” spokesperson Paul Greene wrote in an emailed statement.

Greene said New Brunswick RCMP have “ongoing criminal investigations” related to outlaw motorcycle gang activity but can’t discuss them.

Emery Joseph Martin, 57, of Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska, pictured here during a previous arrest, appeared in Bathurst provincial court via video conference in June. (Radio-Canada)

He pointed to the arrests of Robin Moulton and Emery (Pit) Martin as results the force has gotten so far in investigating outlaw motorcycle gang activity in New Brunswick.

Police allege Moulton is a full-patch member of Angels’ Nomads New Brunswick chapter and Martin, arrested in June, is a long-standing member of Angels Quebec.

Neither Moulton nor Martin have been convicted of the charges against them.

Greene also declined to comment on the investigation into the death of 50-year-old Ronald Gerald Richard, other than to say the investigation is continuing.

Richard, described by Moulton has the fallen president of a Angels support club called the Gatekeepers, was killed last July 24. In Nova Scotia, the Red Devils replaced the Gatekeepers club, but it’s not immediately clear if the same is true in New Brunswick.

Police have not made any arrests in Richard’s death.

Will try to ‘squeeze each other out’

Both Outlaws and Angels affiliates are competing over turf, but Sher said people shouldn’t panic just yet. Biker wars are rare in Canada and the gangs operate similar to businesses.

First, they’ll try to squeeze or buy each other other out, Sher said. They’ll try lower level intimidation.

But if that doesn’t work, “the violence could escalate.”

“If push comes to shove, they will fight for their territory,” he said.

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How fishermen are protecting whales — and helping landscapers

Giant “snarls” of lost fishing gear that pose threats to whales and cause problems for fishermen are being pulled from the Bay of Fundy and used for other purposes such as landscaping and carpets.

The “ghost gear” cleanup has been going on for about a decade, and Maria Recchia of the Fundy North Fishermen’s Association says they’re finding new ways to recycle the ropes, buoys and lobster traps that get lost at sea.

“We’re trying to repurpose more and more of it which has been really fun,” she said.

“We have landscapers calling and wanting quite a lot of traps so we’re connecting them to fishermen who have backyards full of old lobster traps and they just fill them with rocks and build these really great retaining walls with them.”

‘Crazy currents’ in Bay of Fundy

Because of the “crazy currents” in the Bay of Fundy, loose lobster traps that were tagged years ago can get tangled up with rope and newer traps and form giant snarls with as many as a dozen traps caught in them, she said.

“When we get rid of those big snarls it makes a huge difference so fishermen aren’t losing gear to that.”

They really love doing it because it’s kind of like a treasure hunt.— Maria Recchia

At Dipper Harbour, about 45 kilometres southwest of Saint John, fishermen were recently asked to drop off their old rope so it doesn’t end up back in the ocean. Recchia said people from the community were happy to find new uses for it.

“This is good rope, really strong rope, just not good enough to be trusted in the ocean,” she said. “People are using it for all sorts of things, from crafts to making to these nice door mats, to camping and whatever you use rope for, so that was kind of a fun experiment.”

Lost fishing gear can pose a danger to whales that get caught in it. (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Recchia said much of the recent cleanup has focussed around Saint John Harbour and Head Harbour Passage, where fishermen often see whales when they’re out hauling traps. 

“I think it can be a really moving experience for them, and the last thing they want is for these whales to be harmed by their fishing gear,” she said.

‘Like a treasure hunt’

Fishermen use custom grapples to haul up the heavy snarls.

She said they consider it a challenge to find and remove the ghost gear from the ocean — not just because it helps protect the whales and save their own gear from getting tangled, but also because it can go on to serve a new purpose. 

“They really love doing it because it’s kind of like a treasure hunt,” Recchia said.

Maria Recchia is part of the Fundy North Fishermen’s Association. The gear clean-up has been going on for about a decade, and recently the ropes and traps are being turned into landscaping accessories and carpets. 9:01

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