"Fishing for Energy" Designed to Remove Abandoned Gear from the Environment

Federal, local and private partners gathered today in New Bedford, one of New England’s most productive seaports, to launch “Fishing for Energy,” an effort to work with coastal communities to reduce the amount of abandoned fishing gear that ends up in the nation’s oceans. Covanta Energy, a world leader in the development and operation of large scale Energy-from-Waste and renewable energy projects, is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Port of New Bedford to remove abandoned gear from the environment.

Abandoned fishing gear poses a threat to public health and the marine environment through the injury and death of marine life, the impact to navigational safety, and adverse effects on shipping and coastal industries that can have serious economic repercussions.

“Today’s kick off exemplifies the important role that public and private partnerships play in improving and protecting our nation’s most important fishing grounds,” William Corso, deputy assistant administrator of NOAA's National Ocean Service. “Marine debris poses a real threat to the environment and we are pleased to be part of the effort to reuse abandoned gear as a source of energy to power the region’s homes and businesses.”

Covanta will work closely with the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission and the local fishing industry to coordinate the removal of abandoned gear from local coastal waters, as well as retiring gear that is no longer fit for use within a fishery. Once removed from the environment, the gear will be transported to Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste facility in Haverhill, Mass. which provides electricity for 40,000 homes. Approximately one ton of derelict marine debris equals enough electricity to power one home for 25 days.

"Today’s efforts reflect Covanta’s commitment to a safe and healthy environment by turning this abandoned gear into renewable energy,” said Derek Porter, Vice President of External Affairs for Covanta Energy. “We are excited to be working with NOAA, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the City of New Bedford to launch this important initiative.”

With a fishing fleet of more than 300 vessels, New Bedford Harbor is one of the nation's major fishing ports. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the port has ranked first in the U.S. since 2000, based on value of product landed.

“The Fishing for Energy Program provides New Bedford fishermen with an economical and accessible means for disposing old fishing gear that at the same time will foster a cleaner marine environment and generate energy,” said Mayor Scott W. Lang of New Bedford. “I thank Covanta, NOAA, and the NFWF for joining together to support New Bedford's vibrant commercial fishing industry with this cutting edge program.”

The NOAA Marine Debris Program serves to coordinate, strengthen, and increase the visibility of marine debris issues and efforts within the agency, its partners, and the public. The Program supports activities at both a national and international effort focused on identifying, reducing and preventing debris from entering the marine environment.

“The Fishing for Energy partnership with Covanta and NOAA is a momentous first step in tackling the serious problem of derelict fishing gear on in New England,” said Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director of National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “We are very excited that Covanta has taken on the mission of serving the communities in which they operate through environmental protection and stewardship. We look forward to growing this partnership further as it gains momentum and achieves some real measurable success in marine debris prevention and removal.”


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