Fishing for Energy 2020 Request for Proposals - CLOSED

Proposal Webinar: Tuesday, February 18, 2020 2:00 PM ET
Full Proposal Due Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2020 by 11:59 PM ET

Applicant Webinar: View Webinar Recording


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), on behalf of Fishing for Energy partners Covanta Energy Corporation (Covanta) and the NOAA Marine Debris Program (NOAA), is pleased to announce the availability of up to $500,000 in grant funding to support strategies to reduce the impacts of derelict fishing gear to marine and coastal environments and navigational safety. This solicitation also makes available funding provided through Community Service funds (arising from a federal environmental prosecution for benefits to marine wildlife and habitats).

Fishing for Energy launched in 2008 as a partnership among Covanta, the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Its goals are to provide a cost-free solution to fishermen to dispose of old, derelict or unusable fishing gear and to reduce the amount of derelict fishing gear in and around our coastal waterways.


Grants will target U.S. coastal waters. Additional priority geographies are listed for each focal area below. Priority will be given to projects that identify connections to existing state or regional marine debris action plans, or species or habitat conservation plans.


This competition has two priorities: (1) innovation in gear technology and (2) comprehensive derelict fishing gear management. Competitive projects will address the following in their proposals: 

  1. Innovation in gear technology: The development of innovations in fishing gear technology is an opportunity to both reduce the amount and threat of derelict fishing gear on the environment as well as decrease the threats it may pose to key species. Proposals under this focal area should seek to reduce the loss of gear at sea and the potential impacts of lost gear on threatened and endangered marine wildlife and the habitats they depend on. The partnership is looking for projects that identify, test, and deploy innovations to prevent/reduce accidental introduction of derelict fishing gear into the marine environment (prevention) and innovations to reduce the negative impacts of fishing gear once lost (disabling). Applications under this priority area can propose prototype design and testing for new innovations or adoption of already tested, and promising innovations. A prototype design proposal may include a preliminary sample or first model of a gear innovation for testing with the appropriate local fishing community. This phase should result in an evaluation of the new design, its scalability, and its ability to achieve conservation goals in a particular fishery that connect to the interests of the relevant local, federal, or tribal etc. fishery management entity. An adoption of already-tested models may include the expansion of a gear innovation to the next step beyond the prototype phase. This can include a concept model of manufacturing and testing a design for further feedback from key stakeholders. This phase should position the gear innovation for economical production and successful market development following completion of the project. 
    • Site and Gear selection: Projects should identify the fishery, including type of gear and location, where innovations are needed and discuss the effect (regulatory, financial, etc.) that the proposed technology will have on that fishery, the education and engagement with fishermen necessary to successfully deploy the technology in the fishery, and the incentives that are likely to stimulate adoption of the new technology. Projects should also demonstrate knowledge from the fishing industry that indicates the ‘point of loss’ or ‘impact once lost’ that the gear solution would address (through industry interviews, forums, etc.) either as part of the grant or in the context of presenting the problem in the proposal. Fisheries and locations identified as priority for this funding opportunity include pot fisheries in the Gulf of Maine's North Atlantic right whale habitat, the Chesapeake Bay with targeted benefits to blue crab, the Puget Sound to benefit killer whales and Chinook salmon, and the state of Hawaii to benefit green sea turtles. Projects in these areas are of particular interest, but all U.S. geographies are eligible for funding.
    • Management Connection: NFWF is seeking projects that will tie directly to state or regional management needs and ongoing efforts. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate coordination with local, federal, or tribal, etc. management entities to address key concerns around point of loss, rate of loss/accumulation, rate of decay, calculated impact to wildlife, bycatch rates, etc. that can be used to help adjust regulations, gear configuration, and other management practices to minimize the occurrence and impact of lost gear. A letter of support is REQUIRED from the fishery management agency (e.g., state or federal as appropriate) with which you are working or plan to engage that specifically describes how the project will assist in meeting management needs, including information needs that will be met through the project. 
    • Engagement: Priority projects will demonstrate support from the local, relevant fishing community. 
  2. Comprehensive derelict fishing gear management: In many coastal areas, marine debris is an ongoing issue rather than an episodic event. Whereas past competitions focused on derelict fishing gear removal, the Fishing for Energy partners are seeking proposals from the state of Florida that address derelict fishing gear in a more comprehensive way, with the goal to build a sustainable maintenance program over time. Eligible Geography: In the initial year of this focal area, proposals should work to improve the capacity of the local and state governments in Florida to establish a sustainable marine debris prevention and removal program. Projects outside of Florida will not be competitive under this priority. Proposals should acknowledge the existing marine debris priorities in the state, either stated in a state marine debris action plan, state emergency response guide, or another policy or recommended practice, and place their proposal in the context of addressing those priorities or other shortfalls that will help increase the program’s impact while remaining sustainable. Priority will also be given to projects that consider the increase in the number and severity of storms across Florida and how the impacts of these storms may be lessened or response capacity enhanced. Priority will also be given to projects that are closely connected to and build from removal projects awarded under the Hurricane Response Marine Debris Removal Fund.
    • Site selection: Proposals can address a particular sub-geography of Florida (e.g. specific county, or specific island un the Florida Keys) or a capacity need for the broader state program (e.g. initial storm response assessment). Proposals should clearly describe the geographic extent of your project, the efforts that have been made to identify gear accumulation and species/habitat concerns in this area to date, and why this area is prioritized for a comprehensive reduction and maintenance management effort (i.e., conservation benefit to sea turtles, marine mammals and coral reefs are of particular interest). 
    • Clearly defined methods and activities: Explain in detail the components of your proposed comprehensive reduction and management effort. Components can include, but are not limited to, increased effort in removal actions to address existing accumulation, improving technologies in locating, assessing, and removing marine debris, prevention campaigns to targeted user groups, obtaining small equipment or developing management infrastructure to increase efficiencies, planned response guidance (with reference to any state emergency response guide, if applicable), improved best management practices, etc. Projects should demonstrate that they will have a comprehensive and lasting impact, addressing the issue of derelict fishing gear from multiple angles as appropriate. Proposals should indicate how the project would affect Florida beyond the end date of the proposed project and align the state for managing marine debris into the future. If removal is part of your comprehensive effort, explain methods for removal and disposal, best practices that will be used to minimize impact to existing habitat, compatibility with the NOAA Marine Debris Program Programmatic Environmental Assessment  (see NOAA link HERE), status of any necessary permits and the composition and experience of the team. 
      • Disposal: Proposals for projects that include removal activities must include anticipated disposal costs and logistics and should strive to recycle the material to the extent possible. Projects may be eligible to use the Fishing for Energy Gear Collection program, but applicants must work with NFWF staff prior to listing this as an element of their proposal. Please contact Kaity Goldsmith ( for more information on this option.
    • Management Connection: NFWF is seeking projects that will tie to state or regional management efforts. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate work with the appropriate local, state, federal, tribal, etc. management agencies to increase efficiencies and establish a sustainable mechanism to reduce the volume and duration of marine debris in Florida coastal waters to the benefit of fish, wildlife and marine habitats. A letter of support is REQUIRED from the management agency (e.g., county, state, park, etc.) with which you are working that specifically describes how the project will assist in meeting management needs, and how these needs will be sustained after the project. 
    • Outreach: Priority projects will include a communication plan to raise awareness around the effort and the findings of the project and where appropriate, engage the local public and fishing communities. Please note any specific engagement of fishermen or veterans.


To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, a list of metrics for the Fishing for Energy Program is available in Easygrants. Applicants will choose from this list for future reporting. We ask that applicants select only the most relevant metrics from this list for their project (all possible program metrics are shown in the table below).  If an applicable metric has not been provided, please contact Kaity Goldsmith ( to discuss acceptable alternatives.

Project Activity Recommended Metric Additional Guidance
Derelict Gear Removal # pounds of debris removed Proposal and metric should focus on fishing gear and not other debris
Land, wetland restoration - Acres restored Number of acres cleared of derelict gear
Fishing gear innovation R&D Tool development for decision making - # tools/techniques tested Number of gear innovations that will be developed (new innovations that have not previously been tested successfully)
Management Application Management or Governance Planning - # plan activities implemented Please reference the specific action and plan to be implemented.
Outreach and Education Volunteer participation - # volunteers participating Please reference in the notes section how many volunteers are anticipated to be fishermen
Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance - # people reached Clearly describe the different target audiences that make up your target value and how you will determine whether they have been reached by your message


Eligible and Ineligible Entities

  • Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations, state or territorial government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, Indian tribes, educational institutions, or commercial (for profit) organizations.  For-profit applicants: please note that this is a request for grant proposals, not a procurement of goods and services; see the Budget section below for specific cost considerations.
  • Ineligible applicants include federal agencies or employees of federal agencies, unincorporated individuals, foreign organizations and foreign public entities. Interested federal agencies may collaborate with eligible applicants but may not receive funds through this competition. All projects must take place within the United States or territories or their respective waterways.

Ineligible Uses of Grant Funds 

  • NFWF funds and matching contributions may not be used to support political advocacy, fundraising, lobbying, litigation, terrorist activities or Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.
  • NFWF funds may not be used to support ongoing efforts to comply with legal requirements, including permit conditions, mitigation and settlement agreements. However, grant funds may be used to support projects that enhance or improve upon existing baseline compliance efforts. 


Gear innovation awards are anticipated to be about $100,000 to $150,000 for prototype development and $200,000 to $300,000 for on-boarding of a gear innovation prototype. The comprehensive marine debris reduction effort is anticipated to be about $200,000. The total amount of all awards made under this RFP is not expected to exceed $500,000. Non-federal matching funds are not required, but are strongly encouraged and likely to impact competitiveness of the proposal. 


All proposals will be screened for relevance, accuracy, completeness and compliance with NFWF and funding source policies. Proposals will then be evaluated based on the extent to which they meet the following criteria.

Program Goals and Priorities – Project contributes to the Program’s overall habitat and species conservation goals, and has specific, quantifiable performance metrics to evaluate project success. 

Technical Merit – Project is technically sound and feasible, and the proposal sets forth a clear, logical and achievable work plan and timeline. Project engages appropriate management, technical, and industry (fishermen) experts throughout project planning, design and implementation to ensure activities are technically-sound, realistic, and feasible.

Cost-Effectiveness – Project includes a cost-effective budget that balances performance risk and efficient use of funds.  Cost-effectiveness evaluation may include, but is not limited to, an assessment of either or both direct and indirect costs in the proposed budget. The federal government has determined that a de minimis 10% indirect rate is an acceptable minimum for organizations without a NICRA, as such NFWF reserves the right to scrutinize ALL proposals with indirect rates above 10% for cost-effectiveness.  

Transferability – Project has potential and plan to transfer lessons learned and knowledge to be integrated into government programs and policies.

Communication – Project includes a detailed plan to communicate information about the project to appropriate audiences.

Monitoring – Project includes a plan for monitoring progress during and after the proposed project period to track project success and adaptively address new challenges and opportunities as they arise. 

Long-term Sustainability – Project will be maintained to ensure benefits are achieved and sustained over time. This should include how future funding will be secured to implement necessary long-term monitoring and maintenance activities.

Past Success – Applicant has a proven track record of success in implementing conservation practices with specific, measurable results.

Partnership – An appropriate partnership exists to implement the project and the project is supported by a strong local partnership that leverages additional funds and will sustain it after the life of the grant. Identify proposed partners, if known (including potential or contemplated subawards to third party subrecipients of the applicant), the roles they will play in implementing the project, and how this project will build new or enhance existing partnerships.  (Note: a project partner is any local community, non-profit organization, tribe, and/or local, state, and federal government agency that contributes to the project in a substantial way and is closely involved in the completion of the project.)


Budget – Costs are allowable, reasonable and budgeted in accordance with NFWF’s Budget Instructions cost categories.  Federally-funded projects must be in compliance with OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable.  This funding opportunity will award grants of federal financial assistance funds; applicants must be able to comply with the OMB Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200).  While for-profit entities are eligible applicants, charges to a potential award may include actual costs only; recipients may not apply loaded rates or realize profit from an award of federal financial assistance funds.

Matching Contributions – Matching Contributions consist of cash, contributed goods and services, volunteer hours, and/or property raised and spent for the Project during the Period of Performance. Larger match ratios and matching fund contributions from a diversity of partners are encouraged and will be more competitive during application review.

Procurement – If the applicant chooses to specifically identify proposed Contractor(s) for Services, an award by NFWF to the applicant does not constitute NFWF’s express written authorization for the applicant to procure such specific services non-competitively.  When procuring goods and services, NFWF recipients must follow documented procurement procedures which reflect applicable laws and regulations.  

Publicity and Acknowledgement of Support – Award recipients will be required to acknowledge funding sources (NFWF, NOAA Marine Debris Program, Covanta, etc.) in public facing announcements, outreach materials, or media inquiries.  Award recipients will also be required to grant NFWF the right and authority to publicize the project and NFWF’s financial support for the grant in press releases, publications and other public communications.  Recipients may also be asked by NFWF to provide high-resolution (minimum 300 dpi) photographs depicting the project.

Receiving Award Funds – Award payments are primarily reimbursable.  Projects may request funds for reimbursement at any time after completing a signed agreement with NFWF.  A request of an advance of funds must be due to an imminent need of expenditure and must detail how the funds will be used and provide justification and a timeline for expected disbursement of these funds.

Compliance Requirements – Projects selected may be subject to requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act (state and federal), and National Historic Preservation Act.  Documentation of compliance with these regulations must be approved prior to initiating activities that disturb or alter habitat or other features of the project site(s).  Applicants should budget time and resources to obtain the needed approvals and should report prior experience in securing permits/clearance for similar activities where appropriate.  As may be applicable, successful applicants may be required to comply with additional Federal, state or local requirements and obtain all necessary permits and clearances.

Permits – Successful applicants will be required to provide sufficient documentation that the project expects to receive or has received all necessary permits and clearances to comply with any Federal, state or local requirements.  

Federal Funding – The availability of federal funds estimated in this solicitation is contingent upon the federal appropriations process. Funding decisions will be made based on level of funding and timing of when it is received by NFWF.


Dates of activities are subject to change.  Please check the program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information: Fishing for Energy.

  Applicant Webinar (Register Here) February 18, 2020 2:00 PM Eastern
  Full Proposal Due Date March 31, 2020, 11:59PM, Eastern
  Awards Announced Late August 2020


All application materials must be submitted online through National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation’s Easygrants system.

1.  Go to to register in our Easygrants online system. New users to the system will be prompted to register before starting the application (if you already are a registered user, use your existing login).  Enter your applicant information. Please disable the pop-up blocker on your internet browser prior to beginning the application process. 

2.  Once on your homepage, click the “Apply for Funding” button and select this RFP’s “Funding Opportunity” from the list of options.

3.  Follow the instructions in Easygrants to complete your application. Once an application has been started, it may be saved and returned to at a later time for completion and submission.


A Tip Sheet is available for quick reference while you are working through your application. This document can be downloaded here.

Additional information to support the application process can be accessed on the NFWF website’s Applicant Information page.

For more information or questions about this RFP, please contact: 
Kaity Goldsmith, Manager Marine Conservation

For issues or assistance with our online Easygrants system, please contact:
Easygrants Helpdesk
Voicemail:  202-595-2497
Hours:  9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET, Monday-Friday. 
Include:  your name, proposal ID #, e-mail address, phone number, program you are applying to, and a description of the issue.