There are 1 million jobs yielding more than $32 billion in income associated with the U.S. commercial fishing industry, which adds up to a lot of fishing gear. But when that gear is no longer needed, anglers haven’t had a way to easily dispose of it responsibly, until recently.
Fishing for Energy, a Massachusetts-based program launched in 2008, recognized the need for an effective, environmentally sound disposal plan for the fishing industry. Through a nationwide partnership with Covanta Energy Corporation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program, and Schnitzer Steel Industries, Fishing for Energy provides free recycling of old and unusable fishing gear for commercial fishermen in nine states.
The discarded gear is sorted at Schnitzer Steel Industries, where they’re looking for metals to recycle. Then, the nonrecyclable materials are gathered and converted into renewable energy at Covanta Energy locations.
Fishing for Energy recently hit a milestone when it announced it had turned more than 300,000 pounds of old commercial fishing gear into renewable energy at its energy-from-waste facility in northern Massachusetts. All total, the organization has processed more than 2 million pounds of fishing gear since its inception.
“Massachusetts is known for having one of the nation’s oldest and most productive fishing industries. Derelict fishing gear is an unfortunate consequence of this productive fishery,” said Massachusetts State Rep. Brian Dempsey in a statement. He added that the ongoing partnership between Fishing for Energy and the fishing industry goes a long way “to ensuring the stability, maintenance and future of Massachusetts’ vital ocean habitat.”
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