Fishing gear collected in 2020 from the Atlantic Ocean is shown in a handout photo from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-DFO

The Fisheries Department says more than 63 tonnes of lost fishing gear was retrieved from the Atlantic Ocean in 2020 as part of a government program to reduce marine pollution.

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said today in a news release that most of the so-called "ghost gear" collected were traps and pots from lobster and crab fishing.

Through the #GhostGear Fund, we’re partnering with teams to clean up our oceans. So far we’ve pulled

⚓️63 tonnes of lost gear - more than the weight of 11 elephants

⚓️10,500 ft of rope - more than the length of 32 football fields

And that’s just the Atlantic.#HealthyOceans pic.twitter.com/GdyluOBnDp

— Bernadette Jordan (@BernJordanMP) January 7, 2021

Ghost gear is the term used to describe lost, abandoned and derelict fishing nets and commercial fishing gear left behind in the country's waters.

Jordan says most of the gear was collected from the Bay of Fundy and the coastal waters off Nova Scotia, though she says some was gathered from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off the shores of Newfoundland.

About 14 per cent of the material collected were nets and longline fishing equipment that together measured more than 3,200 meters, about the same length as 32 football fields.

Jordan says the ghost gear project will tackle the waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of British Columbia in 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.