What We Do
​Covanta volunteer assisting in derelict fishing gear disposal | Credit: Erin Hofmann
  • Fishing for Energy

    Every year marine species, from lobsters and fish to sea lions and birds, become trapped or entangled in lost, abandoned or discarded fishing gear. This "derelict gear" (fishing line, nets, and pots) continues to capture fish and wildlife while at sea, even if no fishermen retrieves the catch. Lost gear can also accumulate over time, creating islands of metal and rope. Storms move these masses across the ocean floor, scouring fragile habitats like coral reefs and sea grass beds. Floating masses foul both vessels and active fishing gear, adversely impacting maritime industries.

    The Fishing for Energy partnership works to address this problem in two ways: by providing commercial fishermen with no-cost opportunities to dispose of derelict and retired fishing gear, and by offering grant support for gear innovations to prevent loss and reduce impact. By assisting in prevention and removal of derelict fishing gear, Fishing for Energy restores the quality of marine and coastal habitats and supports the communities and industries that rely on these resources.

    Funding priorities for this program include:

    • Disposal opportunities: provide collection bins at strategic ports for commercial fishermen to unload gear;
    • Regulation: collaborate with state managers to address legal impediments of derelict fishing gear removal;
    • Technological Innovation: identify, test, and deploy innovations to address accidental introduction of derelict fishing gear into the marine environment and innovations to reduce the effectiveness of gear once lost; and,
    • Outreach and Education: educate the public about the impacts of derelict fishing gear and Fishing for Energy initiatives to make measurable change.

    Through March 2016, the Fishing for Energy partnership has provided removal services at 48 ports in 10 states, collecting over 3 million pounds of fishing gear. Gear collected at the ports is first sorted at Schnitzer Steel Industries for metals recycling, and the remaining non-recyclable material is converted into energy at Covanta Energy locations. Through the Fishing for Energy grants fund, close to $1.65 million has been awarded with about $964,000 matched from grantees for 27 projects.

    Fishing for Energy is a partnership between NFWF and NOAA's Marine Debris Program, Covanta, and Schnitzer Steel Industries.


 Application Information

  • (Updated: 3/5/2018)


 Program Information

  • (Updated: 3/29/2016)

  • (Updated: 3/8/2016)

  • (Updated: 12/5/2013)


 Staff Representatives






 Due Dates

  • 3/2/2018
    Applicant Webinar

  • 4/19/2018
    Full Proposal Deadline



  • How do I receive announcements?
    E-mail haven.whipple@nfwf.org to be added to the notification list for announcements of new solicitations
  • Who is eligible to participate in the bin collection program?
    Any location accessible to commercial fishermen is eligible to submit a port nomination form to the Fishing for Energy partnership. Every submission will be considered for participation in the collection program.
  • Where does the fishing gear go once collected?
    Metals are recycled and large ropes sheared at Schnitzer Steel facilities. All remaining materials are converted into renewable energy at Covanta own or operated Waste to Energy facilities.