East Hampton Town Trustee Debbie Klughers has secured a federal grant that will not only make it possible for fishermen to dispose of used fishing gear but also allow them to turn the gear, including line, lobster pots, nets, dredges, and buoys, into energy.
The Fishing for Energy program is a partnership of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Covanta Energy Corporation, and Schnitzer Steel Industries. All four organizations are working together to reduce mountains of derelict fishing gear nationwide.
Simply put, derelict fishing gear has not been easy to dispose of. Landfills often reject some types of gear, and gear left in the water poses a danger to marine life. Since 2008, 22 ports participating in the program have collected 450 tons of gear.
During the East Hampton Town Board’s May 1 work session, Ms. Klughers explained how the program works. Bins are put in locations convenient to fishermen, in this case the Montauk Recycling Center, where the Gershow Carting Company will place a 30-yard Dumpster.
When it is full, the material will be taken to Hempstead, where Schnitzer Steel’s recycling facility removes metals. The remainder goes to Covanta Energy, which has a plant that “turns the derelict fishing gear into energy,” Ms. Klughers told the board. There is no cost to either the town or fishermen, she said.
The program will be coordinated in East Hampton by Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Pat Keller, director of the town sanitation department.