The Fishing for Energy partnership announced last week that more than 3 million pounds of old fishing gear and marine debris have been removed from United States waterways and coastlines since 2008 and converted into clean, renewable energy. Fishing for Energy, a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Covanta and Schnitzer Steel Industries, has successfully worked with local commercial fishermen and ports to collect and responsibly dispose of hundreds of abandoned fishing traps.

Fishing for Energy, a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Covanta and Schnitzer Steel Industries, has successfully worked with local commercial fishermen and ports to collect and responsibly dispose of hundreds of abandoned fishing traps.

Shoreline debris monitoring. NOAA photo.“Together, with the help of fishermen in over 49 communities across the nation, we are ensuring retired gear is disposed of properly and not ‘fishing’ longer than intended. Proper disposal of fishing gear can help minimize impacts that lost or abandoned nets, lines and traps can have on our natural resources and our economy," said Nancy Wallace, director of the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

“Fishermen and local community groups are essential to our success,” said Margretta Morris, Covanta’s vice president of materials management and community affairs. “With their active participation, we are able to recycle valuable metals and recover energy from the remaining material at a Covanta Energy-from-Waste facility. Since 2008, we have been able to generate enough electricity from derelict gear and marine debris to power 2,200 homes for one month.”

Successful pilot ports such as Wellfleet, MA have collected over 367,000 pounds of derelict fishing gear since the beginning of the partnership. Other high-volume ports include Newport, OR (352,480 pounds), New Bedford, MA (285,000 pounds) and Point Judith, RI (242,000 pounds.).

“Each participating port has helped us to reach this milestone by promoting this free program to their fishermen,” said Michelle Pico, NFWF’s program director for marine conservation. “Together, we have created a win-win-win solution for the environment, community and local economy.”

Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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