Blog Archives

Making Energy from Marine Debris

Every year marine species, from lobsters and fish to sea lions and birds, become trapped or entangled in lost, abandoned or discarded fishing gear. This “derelict gear” continues to capture fish and wildlife while at sea, even if no fishermen retrieves the catch.

The Fishing for Energy partnership works to address this problem in two ways: by providing commercial fishermen with no-cost opportunities to dispose of derelict and retired fishing gear, and by offering grant support for direct removal and assessment efforts.

Fishing for Energy

Through March 2016, the Fishing for Energy partnership has provided removal services at 48 ports in 10 states, collecting over 3 million pounds of fishing gear. Gear collected at the ports is first sorted at Schnitzer Steel Industries for metals recycling, and the remaining non-recyclable material is converted into energy at Covanta Energy locations.

Fishing for Energy

Plastic in the Food Chain

Despite the much-touted health benefits of fish, consumers may be getting more than just lean protein in their servings of seafood. Researchers have found that around a quarter of the fish in markets in Indonesia and California contained plastic or fibrous material in their gut. This study is one of the first to make a direct link between plastic and the food which end up on the plates of consumers.

Fish MarketWe already know that eating fish comes with risks of ingesting metals like mercury and lead, or pesticides like DDT. Scientists don’t currently know whether or what amount of plastics in fish poses a threat to human safety. They do know, however, that plastics are associated with a cocktail of chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic, and some of which disrupt our hormone system. Once they enter the ocean, plastics can also become a sponge for other contaminants like pesticides and industrial chemicals.

According to PHY ORGS the researchers emphasize that the debris are found in the animals’ guts. That suggests people are likely to ingest the debris only if the animal is eaten whole, like sardines and anchovies. The team is still studying whether chemicals in the material can transfer into the meat.

The presence of tiny plastic particles, or microplastics, is a growing problem worldwide. A team of scientists estimated that eight million metric tons of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans each year, and predicted that that number will increase over the next decade.

Reducing plastics in the ocean will require a concerted, multi-pronged effort and interventions might include banning plastic microbeads in personal care products, working with big plastic producers to search for alternative materials, or even possibly putting fiber filters on washing machines.

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Indonesia Debris

Marine Debris in Your Backyard: Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are such a huge part of our life in Southeastern Wisconsin. We spend time on the beaches and at events that take place on the lake shore.

Pollution on these inland waterways is a huge concern.

Marine Debris in Your Backyard: Great Lakes.

Is Alaska Ready for the Next Wave of Debris

Refrigerators, foam buoys and even ketchup bottles are piling up on Alaska’s beaches. Almost two years after the devastating Japanese tsunami, its debris and rubbish are fouling the coastlines of many states — especially in Alaska.

At the state’s Montague Island beach, the nearly 80 miles of rugged wilderness looks pristine from a helicopter a few thousand feet up. But when you descend, globs of foam come into view.
Marine debris isn’t a new issue for the state, but the job got a whole lot harder when the tsunami wreckage began arriving last spring.

One area is scattered with foam bits smaller than packing peanuts. This Styrofoam is just going to get all ground up, and turn into billions and trillions of little bits of Styrofoam scattered all over everything.

Environmental Concerns
The trash isn’t just an eyesore. Birds, rodents and even bears are eating the pieces of foam. Chemicals are also a worry. Among the debris, there are containers that held kerosene, gas and other petroleum products.
Last summer, the state paid for an aerial survey to inspect 2,500 miles of Alaska’s coastline and found tsunami debris on every beach photographed.
Over 8,000 pictures were taken and the debris was more widespread and in greater quantities than anyone expected.
But, officially, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration recorded just five tsunami debris items in Alaska. The agency will only confirm an object if it has a unique identifier that can be traced back to Japan.

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