We've all done it: whether it's a fishing line that gets stuck on a rock or a broken net, we just feel too lazy to pull it out of the water. Sometimes, even, leaving behind old fishing gear is the easiest thing to do when you finish up your day on the boat and head back to the coast. However, this waste, known as "derelict fishing gear," can have a slew of adverse affects on marine life, and even on species that exist outside of the water, like humans, dogs or birds. No matter what you leave behind, whether it's just a single fishing line or a dangling hook, derelict fishing gear can be bad news for all types of animals. A small piece of string can seem harmless, but a fish or crab could easily get tangled up in it, while a net can smother a habitat and kill dozens of fish without you ever knowing about it.
Enter "Fishing for Energy," a new program that actively encourages the recovery of derelict fishing gear and facilitates the safe disposal of it. If your line snags on an old piece of fishing gear and you pull it up, don't throw it back into the water. Instead, hold onto it until you get back to shore. Fishing for Energy will take whatever you find for no charge. Even better, the initiative doesn't just throw the stuff away in any old landfill, but instead takes it to an energy-from-waste facility, where trash is converted safely into clean, green electricity. According to Fishing for Energy, one ton of derelict fishing nets can power a house for the better part of a month.
The Fishing for Energy initiative was created in 2008 as a partnership between a wide range of marine and wildlife protection agencies, but it needs the help of every fisherman on the water to truly succeed. During its existence, the organization has reached out to numerous cities, ports, and marinas, and is continuing to spread the word about the damaging nature of derelict fishing gear and what each and every one of us can do to help. Instead of leaving your nets, hooks, lines, or other accessories hanging in the water, try to recover them. Sometimes, doing so is much easier said than done, but every piece of gear you can recover is another piece of marine life that lives to be caught another day.
Click here to learn about Fishing for Energy and find out how you can get involved.