, Gloucester, MA

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August 8, 2013

Project draws energy from old fishing gear

Turn on a light in your home and imagine it is powered by an old, ripped fishing net.

Hard to imagine?

How about a broken lobster trap? Or a buoy that can no longer float?

Stop imaging. It’s really happening.

Through a program called Fishing for Energy, the gear is collected in Gloucester and Rockport and trucked to Covanta’s Waste-to-Energy facility in Haverhill, where most of it — and other trash— is converted to energy while metal is collected and recycled.

It’s a way to clear the deck, so to speak, for commercial fishermen looking for a cost-free method of disposing of old, unused fishing gear, as well as derelict gear that can pose a threat to marine life.

Fishing for Energy is a nationwide partnership between Covanta Energy Corporation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, and Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. Gloucester and Martha’s Vineyard recently joined the program.

Although the first community to participate in the Fishing for Energy partnership when it began in 2008, Gloucester, due to space and security limitations, does not have a permanent bin available to fishermen.

Instead, when demand is high enough, Gloucester officials coordinate with Fishing for Energy partners to help manage the accumulated gear collected from local fishermen, said Arthur “Sooky” Sawyer, a Gloucester lobsterman who has worked with the program since in came to Gloucester. In 2008, Covanta collected 9 tons of fishing gear in Gloucester alone.

In fact, Sawyer said, there is a bin in the city now, filling up with snarled traps and lines, and old netting. He said word of a bin’s arrival is spread by word of mouth, through fishermen’s organizations, and by the city’s recycling coordinator, Rose LoPiccolo. Fishermen with derelict or unused gear that they would like to get rid of should call LoPiccolo at the city’s Department of Public Works office or Sawyer himself at 978-807-3457 to find out the bin’s location.

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