Credit: NOAA Fisheries

For over a decade, derelict fishing gear and other marine debris has generated enough electricity to power over 44,000 homes per year. That’s thanks to the Fishing for Energy program and its partners who are now looking for more gear at no cost to fishermen or coastal communities through its grant program.

Fishing for Energy is an arm of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation which works with nearly 60 U.S. fishing communities in 14 states to help them dispose of old fishing gear. Through March of last year, the program has provided collection bins at 56 ports in 13 states, collecting over 4 million pounds of gear destined for landfills or as marine debris.

In many cases, the gear is first sorted at Schnitzer Steel Industries where the metals are recycled into rebar wire rod and other specialty products.

The remaining materials are converted into renewable energy at Covanta Energy-from-Waste facilities.  Annually, Covanta converts nearly 22 million tons of waste from municipalities and businesses into clean, renewable electricity to power one million homes.

Eligible grant applicants have been expanded to include non-profits, state, local, municipal and tribal government agencies and organizations, educational institutions and ports. Non-federal matches in cash or in-kind services are strongly encouraged but not required.

Seafood Auction

Priorities this year include $15,000 grants for existing or new ports to install gear collection bins, or $10,000 to host a gear collection event.

Other grants averaging from $75,000 to $150,000 will be awarded for Capacity and Logistics Development for long-term fishing gear removal programs.

To date, Fishing for Energy has awarded over $5 million in gear removal grants to more than 55 projects in 17 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Deadline to apply for the latest round of grants is March 30.

Find links here to an Easy Grants Help Desk (, contacts ( and videos .