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.
Covanta also provides the same type of bin at the Rockport Transfer Station, where that town’s fishermen and lobstermen can dispose of their derelict gear.
On July 29, a container truck pulled into the Covanta plant in Ward Hill and dropped off a load of gear that included damaged nets, broken lobster traps and buoys, rope and other fishing equipment that was no longer usable.
”This is the kind of stuff that was beyond repair,” said Covanta spokeswoman Meg Morris.
She said that, in the past, fishermen had to pay to dispose of old gear, but under this program Covanta picks up the discarded gear and brings it to the Haverhill plant, where it is converted into clean energy that is fed into the power grid.
Covanta Haverhill this year surpassed the 300,000-pound, program-to-date mark of total derelict fishing gear processed at the Energy-from-Waste facility, officials there said.
Morris said that, beyond Gloucester and Rockport, the Haverhill Covanta plant accepts gear from Boston, Newburyport and Martha’s Vineyard, as well as New Portland, Maine; and Rye and Hampton in New Hampshire;
Since the program began in 2008, Fishing for Energy has processed more than 2.2 million pounds of old fishing gear at Covanta’s facilities on the East and West coasts, the company said.
”As the word gets out each year, we’ve continued to increase the amount we collect and manage at our facilities,” Morris said.
For more information about the Fishing for Energy partnership visit www.nfwf.org/fishingforenergy.
Mike LaBella may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrea Holbrook may be reached at 978-283-7000 x3456, or email@example.com.