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Fishing for Energy Partnership Collects Over 1 Million Pounds of Abandoned Fishing Gear

Photo: Divers gather abandoned fishing nets left at sea.
Old and derelict fishing gear is gathered to create electricity in the Fishing for Energy program. (NOAA)

JANUARY 23, 2012 -- Since launching in 2008, Fishing for Energy, a successful private-public partnership coordinated by NOAA's Marine Debris Program, has reeled in approximately 1.1 million pounds of old fishing gear, a portion of which has been retrieved directly from the ocean by fishermen.

Fishing for Energy is a partnership between Covanta Energy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc., and the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

It aims to help commercial fishermen deal with the costly disposal of retired, derelict (gear that is lost in the marine environment), or unusable fishing gear which might otherwise end up remaining indefinitely in U.S. coastal waters.

The project gives fishermen a free place to dispose of abandoned gear they find in the water, and Covanta Energy runs waste-to-energy facilities that convert the derelict gear that isn't recyclable into electricity to power homes.

Fishing for Energy continues to expand, partnering with new ports to promote gear collection through community education and outreach. The majority of Fishing for Energy ports are located in the Northeast, with 24 ports participating from Virginia to Maine.

The initiative also includes a grant program that directly funds similar efforts in U.S. coastal waters. Recipients of small grants include Stellwagen Alive!, Provincetown Harbormaster, Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Suffolk County, and the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation.

For more information about this project and the NOAA Marine Debris Program, visit

Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:36pm PST