Derelict fishing gear (gear that is lost in the marine environment) has been identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a major source of debris impacting the marine environment. It can damage ecosystems as nets and heavy equipment settle upon the ocean floor or through ‘ghost fishing,’ when a net continues to catch fish after it is lost. Gear can also impact navigational safety, damage fishing equipment and boats that are in use, and have economic repercussions on fishing enterprises and coastal communities.
To help reduce the impact of derelict fishing gear in U.S. coastal waters, Covanta Energy, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Adminstration's (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Schnitzer Steel, have partnered to run the Fishing for Energy (FfE) program. FfE was established to reduce the financial burden imposed on commercial fishermen when disposing of old gear and encourages commercial fishermen to reel in abandoned fishing equipment and deposit it for free at designated drop-off sites near fishing ports. The gear collected is stripped of metals for recycling with the help of Schnitzer Steel and processed into clean, renewable energy at a nearby Covanta Energy-from-Waste facility.
Since launching in 2008, FfE has reeled in more than 1 million pounds of old fishing gear, a portion of which has been retrieved directly from the ocean by fishermen. The partnership has also expanded to include a grant program that directly supports efforts to remove derelict fishing gear from U.S. coastal waters and continues to partner with new ports to promote retired or derelict fishing gear collection through community education and outreach.
In 2010, Fishing for Energy was awarded the prestigious Coastal America Partnership Award, which is the highest level award for partnership efforts from the President of the United States that recognizes outstanding collaborative, multi-agency and multi-stakeholder efforts that leverage and combine resources to accomplish coastal restoration, preservation, protection and education projects.
Covanta facilities that have participated in the Fishing for Energy program :
For more information on Fishing for Energy visit: www.nfwf.org/fishingforenergy.