By Carol McCracken
The Fish Pier on a rain drenched Commercial Street was the backdrop for an announcement this afternoon that fishermen will now be able to dispose of their derelict fishing gear with no cost to them or to the City of Portland. Until now, it was costly for fishermen to dispose of old ropes, traps and metal equipment in landfills.
There are now two bins on the Pier where fisherman can dump their unwanted equipment into in order to avoid associated costs. The program called “Fishing For Enerbgy,” turns collected material into clean, renewable energy by Convanta Energy at its Massachusetts facility. The metal equipmenet will be processed separately by Schnitzer Steel Industries for energy as well.
Mayor Jill Duson said that Portland is proud to be the first fishing community in Maine to collaborate with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program, Covanta Energy and Schnitzer Steel Industries. “Fishing equipment, if it becomes derelict, can threaten marine life, impair navigational safety and cause serious and costly problems for coastal communities like Portland.” Hopefully, “Fishing For Energy,” will encourage fishermen in our waters to collect debris as they come upon it and bring it to the Fish Pier for handling.
Theresa Torrent-Ellis, a senior planner for the Maine Coastal Program in Augusta, said there’s no way of knowing just how much derelict gear there is off the waters of Maine. The State has run several pilot “grappling” programs to determine that number. It hopes to receive Fedeal funding to continue this program.