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Reuse Ghost Gear: Fishing For Energy

Thursday, July 12, 2018 9:44
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While Trump is trying to light a fire to save a dying source of energy, like coal mines, other innovators are creating ways to reuse readily available trash to make energy. Like ghost nets and fishing gear… with an estimated 640,000 tons of ghost nets and 1000’s of crab pots lost every year, the resources are available, not only does it help save the ocean, marine life, livlihoods, and landfills, it creates nice clean energy. How great is that! Instead of polluting the earth.. they are cleaning it up.

Image: Covanta

As fisherman livlihoods are drying up and fisherman look for ways to recycle their old fishing gear and marine debris piles up.. One way that they can make a living is to change their catch. The Fishing for Energy programs is an effort to not just protect marine life by collecting abandoned and discarded fishing gear, they also provide a way to make a living, plus give fisherman an easy way to reuse their gear. The added benefit by saving marine life is of course more marine life.

  • April 2015: They recycled (2.8 million pounds) of gear from 42 ports across ten states, generating enough electricity to power 182 homes for one year.
  • 1.5  Tons of old fishing gear and marine debris removed from Florida waters.
  • Invested more than $2.5 million to address the issue of derelict fishing gear across the United States, to remove debris in 10 states, and to generate enough electricity to power more than 2,500 homes for one month
  • New Jersey: Fishing for Energy and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation (CWF) of New Jersey recycled approximately 26,000 pounds of derelict crab pots and other marine debris. Covanta Union in Rahway, New Jersey processed the gear from nearby New Jersey ports. During 2016, the facility accepted and processed approximately 8,800 pounds of gear from the project.
  • Washington: In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and the Quinault Indian Nation, Fishing for Energy has removed more than 1,000 abandoned crab pots from the Washington Coast through the port community of Westport.

Derelict fishing gear removed from Washington state waters. (photo credit: Natural Resources Consultants) (PRNewsFoto/Fishing for Energy)Derelict fishing gear removed from Washington state waters. (photo credit: Natural Resources Consultants) (PRNewsFoto/Fishing for Energy)

Fishing for Energy is a nationwide partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF); the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program; Covanta, a world-leading sustainable waste and energy solutions company; and Schnitzer Steel Industries, one of the largest metal recycling companies in the United States. The partnership offers conveniently located collection bins for disposal of old fishing gear, making it easy for fishing communities to deal with the issue of derelict gear. As a result, the partnership reduces the amount of gear that ends up in U.S. coastal waters, recycles gear made of metal and processes the remaining gear and debris to generate renewable energy at Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste facilities.

“The derelict gear removal project, as well as the efforts of the Fishing for Energy program, are both excellent examples of innovative solutions to address longstanding threats to the health of our communities and the ocean habitat, while at the same time bringing economic benefits to the coastal communities,” said Kara Cardinal, Marine Projects Manager at TNC.

The Fishing for Energy partnership provided a partial match to this project to fund the transportation of the unusable gear to Schnitzer Steel’s metal processing facility in Tacoma, Washington. After shredding, any metal will be recycled and the remainder of the marine debris will be transported to Covanta’s facility in Marion County, Oregon to generate electricity for area homes and businesses.

Fishing For Energy Partners

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation : The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nation’s wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. NFWF works with government, nonprofit and corporate partners to find solutions for the most intractable conservation challenges. Over the last three decades, NFWF has funded more than 4,500 organizations and committed more than $3.5 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) : NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. The NOAA Marine Debris Program supports community-based removal projects across the country to help benefit coastal habitat, waterways and wildlife including migratory fish. To learn more about current and past projects visit the program’s Marine Debris Clearinghouse. For more information visit:

The Nature Conservancy : The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. In Washington, our goal is to spark a revolution in ocean protection that sustains diverse marine habitats, abundant fisheries, and coastal economies and cultures. Our Washington Coast derelict gear removal project builds on existing marine debris programs on Washington State’s outer coast to remove derelict fishing gear and other marine debris from coastal waters to restore habitats and improve waterways. This community-based project is a partnership between the Conservancy and the Quinault Indian Nation, with support from the NOAA Restoration Center and Marine Debris program. It will result in diminished threats to marine mammals and fish while improving their habitats.

Covanta : Covanta is a world leader in providing sustainable waste and energy solutions. Annually, Covanta’s modern Energy-from-Waste facilities safely convert approximately 20 million tons of waste from municipalities and businesses into clean, renewable electricity to power one million homes and recycle approximately 500,000 tons of metal. Through a vast network of treatment and recycling facilities, Covanta also provides comprehensive industrial material management services to companies seeking solutions to some of today’s most complex environmental challenges. For more information, visit

Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. ;Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. is one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of recycled metal products in the United States with operating facilities located in 24 states, Puerto Rico and Western Canada. Schnitzer has seven deep-water export facilities located on both the East and West Coasts and in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The Company’s integrated operating platform also includes auto parts stores and steel manufacturing. With an effective annual production capacity of approximately 800,000 tons, the Company’s steel manufacturing business produces finished steel products, including rebar, wire rod and other specialty products. The Company began operations in 1906 in Portland, Oregon.

The Westport Marina : The Westport Marina, a facility of the Port of Grays Harbor, is the hub of commercial and recreational fishing on Washington’s Coast. As Washington State’s largest commercial fish landing port, the Marina’s activities support more than 2,300 jobs in southwest Washington. For more information about the Westport Marina and Port of Grays Harbor visit

ReelCycle, a Florida-based non-profit that develops sustainable recycling programs for fishing gear and Fishing for Energy

Fishing For Energy: Ocean Debris Turned into Fuel in Florida 

NOAA Fishing For Energy


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