NH Marine Debris to Energy Project

A New Hampshire-based project to study marine debris at sea and on the shore, incorporating waste-to-energy and recycling as part of cleanup efforts.

Marine Debris-to-Energy Program Details

Marine Debris to Energy is a project that takes a holistic approach to marine debris by tracking and cleaning up marine debris on the shore, underwater, and on the ocean. A large component of this project involves collecting derelict fishing gear at a collection bin and at monofilament recycling bins along the coast and converting it into energy via a waste-to-energy plant in New Hampshire. The project will also provide a collection point for data from beach cleanup volunteers, commercial and recreational fishermen, and other users of the coastline to report marine debris. Users of the site will be able to generate reports and maps to learn more about marine debris along the New Hampshire coast and in the Gulf of Maine.

The objectives of this project are to better characterize ocean-based debris (e.g., derelict fishing gear) sources and distribution patterns, use underwater sonar to begin mapping derelict fishing gear and underwater debris along the New Hampshire coastline, investigate the prevalence of land-based debris sources, and mitigate the problems associated with marine debris through education and outreach in the community and fishing industry.

Marine debris to energy encompasses collecting derelict fishing gear in a dumpster at the Yankee Fisherman’s Cooperative. This is the first time fisherman have had a place to deposit derelict fishing gear. The debris in the dumpster will be taken to the North Andover facility operated by Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Waste Management. The debris will be combusted and the energy recovered to make electricity. Waste Management of New Hampshire and Wheelabrator, have generously donated the dumpster and management of the debris. As a part of this project, we will track the quantity of debris collected and used beneficially to make energy.

This project also complements and hopes to enhance existing marine debris reduction programs – we hope the project components and educational programs developed can be used as templates for other areas in developing data collection procedures and outreach strategies for marine debris reduction.

This project is funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Grants program and is conducted by a marine debris team formed by the University of New Hampshire’s Environmental Research Group, NH Sea Grant, UNH Cooperative Extension, and the non-profit Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, with the support from many commercial and recreational fishermen, cleanup volunteers and educators.

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This study is funded by NH Sea Grant and through a grant from the NOAA Marine Debris Program.
Site design and hosting by the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

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