Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc., which has already made a name for itself by partnering in a Hawaii program that recycles old fishing nets for energy, is at it again. The company has joined in the Fishing for Energy partnership with Covanta Energy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program. Together, they will collect old or abandoned fishing nets and other gear at the Oregon coastal ports of Garibaldi and Newport, and send it to Covanta’s waste-to-energy plant. The goal: to help prevent oceanborne derelict fishing gear from harming marine life, and to start making a dent in the notorious Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Derelict Fishing Gear and Marine Health
NOAA has identified marine debris as a significant problem, contributing to stress on fisheries and even interfering with navigation. The Pacific Garbage patch is only the surface manifestation of a marine debris problem that extends to the ocean floor. The Fishing for Energy Partnership lauched in 20008 and in one year has already collected more than 200 tons of fishing gear from ports on the East and West coasts, some of it recovered from the ocean by volunteer fishermen. The rest of the collection consists of old gear deposited in drop-off bins on land. It’s a win-win for the fishing industry. Fishermen get a free and convenient way to dispose of a big chunk of mostly plastic debris from their operations, eliminating any incentive to dump the stuff illegally while relieving fisheries of unnecssary deaths caused by “ghost nets.” Meanwhile, the waste is diverted from local landfills and turned over to waste-to-energy plants. The fishing debris collected at Garibaldi and Newport will be brought to a Covanta facility.
Schnitzer Steel and Fishing Nets
In the Hawaii fishing gear recycling program, Schnitzer Steel’s corporate focus on metals recyling created an ideal platform for shifting into plastics recycling. The company first began partnering with NOAA in 2002 and volunteered to service a free derelict fishing gear collection bin, using its existing trucks and recycling machines to transport the debris and cut it into manageable pieces. In the same way, the creative use of existing resources along with active collaboration between willing partners will be the key to keeping Fishing for Energy in Oregon a cost-effective, long term solution.
Image: miemo at flickr.com.