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Fishing for Energy Collects One Million Pounds of Old Fishing Gear and Marine Debris

Jun. 08/11

Washington DC, June 8, 2011 - Fishing for Energy, the unique partnership providing fishermen with a cost-free solution for recycling and recovering energy from old fishing gear, is commemorating World Oceans Day this year with the achievement of a significant milestone - collecting one million pounds of old fishing gear and marine debris since the program's inception in 2008.

A partnership among Covanta Energy Corporation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, and Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. set out to provide a solution to the mounting problem of disposal of used fishing gear and the mass accumulation of marine debris. Working together with local port partners, the organizations have established collections points at more than 20 commercial fishing ports across the United States, significantly reducing the financial burden placed on commercial fishermen as they routinely dispose of retired fishing gear and providing a place to discard retrieved marine debris.

The collections help to prevent gear from becoming derelict and provide a place for easy disposal of gear that is retrieved from the water. Old gear and marine debris can threaten marine life, impact navigational safety, and have economic repercussions on fishing and shipping enterprises and coastal communities.

Rex McKinsey, the Provincetown, MA Harbormaster, has been part of the program since 2009. "Joining the program was timely and all positive. It is great for the environment and if it weren't for this program, all the fishermen in Provincetown would have to pay to have the gear removed themselves due to ever-shrinking municipal budgets," said McKinsey.

Finding cost-effective disposal opportunities for fishermen to dispose of old, unused and derelict fishing gear was identified as an integral component in effectively addressing the issue of marine debris in our oceans at the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference held in Honolulu, HI this past March. In addition to helping make our waterways cleaner, Fishing of Energy makes productive use of the collected gear and marine debris. One million tons of gear collected from commercial fishing ports and retrieved from coastal waterways have been stripped of metals for recycling with the help of Schnitzer Steel and processed into clean, renewable energy at a Covanta Energy-from-Waste facility. Each ton of gear processed at a Covanta facility produces enough electricity to power one home for 25-days.

In 2010, the partnership expanded beyond its gear collection efforts launching the Fishing for Energy grant program. The program provides grant funding to groups that commit to removing derelict fishing gear from U.S. coastal waters. A 2010 recipient of a grant from Fishing for Energy is the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, NY. The Cornell Cooperative has put its funding to good use since receiving it last fall, collecting more than 25 tons of old, derelict lobster traps and gear from the Long Island Sound.

Fishing for Energy thrives due to exemplary cooperation between government, private, public and local organizations. The diversity and unparalleled expertise of the partners results in a unique, community-focused program that addresses a critical marine environmental issue, reduces costs for small commercial fishing businesses, recycles metal and recovers energy from the remaining material. For more information on the partnership visit: www.nfwf.org/fishingforenergy.