WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwire) -- 03/21/13 -- Fishing for Energy, the public-private partnership aimed at reducing the adverse effects of derelict fishing gear (gear that is lost in the marine environment) and marine debris, today awarded four grants through the Fishing for Energy Fund. The grants will support projects that reduce derelict fishing gear in and around coastal waterways and increase public awareness of the threat derelict gear and marine debris pose to the marine environment. The Fishing for Energy Fund is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and is a partnership with Covanta Energy Corporation, Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc., and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program.
Every day commercial fishermen around the country deploy hundreds of traps and miles of nets into ocean and coastal waters to land their catches. Due to circumstances out of their control, like powerful weather events and disturbances from other vessels, some gear can vanish at sea. When this happens, fishermen lose both their gear and the associated profits. Moreover, the lost gear continues to capture fish, which degrades the marine habitat and resources. This phenomenon is called 'ghost fishing' and is an economic and environmental hardship to fishing industries and coastal communities.
The grants from the Fishing for Energy Fund will engage more than 1,500 fishermen and collect over 40 tons of derelict fishing gear. A total of $383,780 will support projects in the United States, including at-sea gear removal; gear density assessments; research of economic and resource impacts; and, the exploration of prevention technologies. When added to $266,178 in additional funds garnered by the grant recipients, close to $650,000 will support on-the-ground activities to assist fishing communities and protect the marine environment gear.
"A primary goal of the Fishing for Energy partnership is to reduce the adverse economic and environmental impacts from derelict fishing gear. With these new grants we are investing in research to reduce and prevent the accumulation of derelict fishing gear in the marine and coastal environment," said Nancy Wallace, Program Director and Division Chief of NOAA's Marine Debris Program.
Specific Fishing for Energy Fund recipient activities include:
•Under the guidance of the College of William and Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Chesapeake Bay watermen will remove close to 30,000 derelict blue crab pots from the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay and recycle them. •The Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation will assess the density and environmental impact of derelict fishing gear in the Gulf of Maine and will survey New England lobstermen to assess the economic impact of derelict fishing gear on their activities. •The College of William and Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science will assess the effectiveness of various disabling apparatuses to prevent lost gear from ghost fishing. •The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies will assess the presence of derelict fishing gear in target areas of the Outer Cape Cod Bay and remove up to 40 tons of fishing gear.
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