Fishing for Energy

A man disposing of nets in a Fishing for Energy bin with a tractor crane.
Fishing for Energy gives fishermen a place to dispose of old nets (Photo: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation).

Fishing for Energy is a partnership between the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Covanta, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and Schnitzer Steel Industries, to prevent and reduce the impacts of derelict fishing gear in the marine environment. The program, which is modeled after Hawaii’s Nets to Energy, provides the fishing community no-cost options for disposing of old or unwanted gear, and the old nets, line, and ropes are converted into energy.

Since 2008, the Fishing for Energy partnership has provided 52 collection bins at participating ports in 12 states, collecting over 4 million pounds of fishing gear. Gear collected at the ports is first sorted at Schnitzer Steel for metals recycling, and the remaining non-recyclable material is converted into energy at Covanta locations. Approximately one ton of derelict nets equal enough electricity to power one home for 25 days.

A portion of the nets have been retrieved directly from the ocean by more than 1,000 fishermen, illustrating the importance of the fishing industry’s role in addressing the problem. Apart from providing direct engagement opportunities for the fishing community, the partnership has expanded to include a grant program that directly supports efforts to remove derelict fishing gear from U.S. coastal waters.

For more information on port locations, Frequently Asked Questions, collection statistics, and grant opportunities, visit NFWF’s Fishing for Energy website.