Fishing for Energy: Reducing Debris in U.S. Coastal Waters

Derelict fishing gear (gear that is lost in ocean waters) is a major source of debris impacting the marine environment. Fishing for Energy was established to reel in this damage and promote conservation.

Lost fishing gear can damage ecosystems as nets and heavy equipment settle to the ocean floor, or through “ghost fishing” when a net continues to catch fish after it is lost. Gear can also impact navigational safety, damage fishing equipment and boats that are in use, and have economic repercussions on fishing enterprises and coastal communities.

To help reduce the impact of derelict fishing gear in U.S. coastal waters, Covanta has partnered with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Marine Debris Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Schnitzer Steel, to create the Fishing for Energy (FfE) program. FfE reduces the financial burden imposed on commercial fishermen when disposing of old gear. Instead of shouldering the cost, fishermen can reel in abandoned equipment and deposit it for free at designated drop-off sites near fishing ports. The gear collected is stripped of metals for recycling with the help of Schnitzer Steel, then processed into clean, renewable energy at a nearby Covanta EfW facility.

Since launching in 2008, FfE has reeled in more than 3 million pounds of old fishing gear, a portion of which has been retrieved directly from the ocean by fishermen. FfE continues to partner with new ports through community education and outreach, and our partnership has expanded to include a grant program that supports derelict equipment removal efforts.