Thirty tons for old, unusable fishing gear and marine debris are off the beaches and out of fishermen's way in the four months since a recycling program launched in East Hampton Town.
Deborah Klughers, an East Hampton Town Trustee who helped bring Fishing for Energy here, about two 40-yard Dumpsters carted away traps, pots, buoys and more from the Montauk Transfer Station, at no charge to them or the town.
The program provides commercial fishermen a cost-free way to recycle gear, which is hauled and stripped of metals for recycling and processed into clean energy at the Covanta Hempstead Energy-from-Waste facility.
Klughers said she hopes more will avail themselves of the program. "There's so much stuff lying around, but the fishermen are busy fishing."
Covanta Energy Corporation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program, and Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. teamed up to form a partnership. Gershow Recycling in Medford is helping with the recycling.
The Town of East Hampton incurs no cost.
Fishermen — even if they don't have a permit to use the dump — can bring their gear to the Montauk facility, Klughers said.
She thanked Tony Littman, the town maintenance supervisor, and Patrick Keller, the sanitation supervisor, for their help in getting the program going. She said the town will try to coordinate another pick up for the baymen in early 2013.
Established in 2008, Fishing for Energy has taken in more than 1.5 million pounds of old fishing gear, a portion of which has been retrieved directly from the ocean by fishermen, as well as reducing the financial burden on fishermen to get rid of their old equipment, and thereby reducing the amount of gear that ends up in the waters.
The program launched in East Hampton on World Oceans Day on June 13.