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Since launching in 2008, Fishing for Energy has reeled in more than 800,000 pounds of old fishing gear. (Photo: NOAA Marine Debris Program)

Fishing for Energy initiative expands into Oregon

Click on the flag for more information about United States UNITED STATES
Monday, October 25, 2010, 23:20 (GMT + 9)

The Oregon port of Astoria is the latest addition to the Fishing for Energy initiative, the program provides commercial fishermen with a cost-free way to recycle old and unusable fishing gear. Gear collected at the port will be stripped of metals for recycling with the help of Schnitzer Steel in Portland and processed into clean, renewable energy at the Covanta Marion Energy in Brooks, OR.

Fishing for Energy is a partnership between Covanta Energy (Covanta), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, and Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. It was established in 2008 to reduce the financial burden imposed on commercial fishermen when disposing of old, derelict (gear that is lost in the marine environment), or unusable fishing gear and thereby reduce the amount of gear that ends up in U.S. coastal waters.

At a ceremony held at Pier Three Boat Yard in the Port of Astoria, the partnership installed collection bins for old, abandoned or lost fishing gear from area commercial fishermen. Bins will be available this month and into November for local fishermen to drop off any retired gear at the Boat Yard location and at Tongue's Point in Astoria.  The partnership also stationed bins at Hammond to support the ongoing derelict gear removal program by the state, recycling more than two tonnes from that program since the installation of bins in September.

Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Jamie Wilson, Regional Director of Schnitzler Steel Inc. said, "Schnitzer Steel is proud to be able to contribute to the Fishing for Energy partnership – this is right up our alley. We believe it is our responsibility to pitch in where we can to improve our natural environment."

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By placing the collection bins at two locations in Astoria, it makes it easy for fishermen to participate. Derelict fishing gear can threaten marine life in a number of ways; by damaging ecosystems as nets and heavy equipment settle upon the ocean floor or through 'ghost fishing,' wherein a net continues to catch fish, even if abandoned or lost. Gear can also impact navigational safety, damage fishing equipment and boats that are in use, and have economic repercussions on fishing and shipping enterprises and coastal communities.

Fishing for Energy thrives due to extensive 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 marine environmental issue, reduces costs for small commercial fishing businesses and recycles metal and recovers energy from the remaining material.

Cyreis Schmitt, from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, lauded the state's partnership with Fishing for Energy. The partnership allowed the state to redistribute funds and expand removal efforts. "Through this free program, no marine debris went into a landfill, and the project was able to use the cost savings on landfill fees to recover even more pots," said Schmitt.

Since launching in 2008, Fishing for Energy has reeled in more than 800,000 pounds of old fishing gear, a portion of which has been retrieved directly from the ocean by fishermen.

In 2010, Fishing for Energy was awarded the prestigious Coastal America Partnership Award, which is presented to groups that restore and protect coastal ecosystems through collaborative action and partnership. 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 will continue to partner with new ports to promote retired or derelict fishing gear collection through community education and outreach. 


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Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA/NMFS
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