Commercial boats at the docks in Provincetown. Photo by Tom Croke

The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) has received a grant from the Fishing For Energy program to assess and recover derelict, lost or abandoned fishing gear from the seabed in Provincetown and Wellfleet Harbors. The project will begin with side-scan sonar surveys to quantify the presence of gear and identify recovery targets.

PCCS is soliciting 4-8 Cape Cod Bay commercial fishing vessels to participate in the marine debris cleanup, working in known areas of gear presence as well as in locations identified with sonar, through March 15, 2013. Participating vessels will receive a fuel stipend.

Qualified commercial fishing vessels must be rigged for lobstering or dragging and have working electronics to provide depth and location and to facilitate safe navigation; provide adequate crew to perform work on-board and at the dock and who are knowledgeable in handling grapple and derelict fishing gear; and have equipment capable of towing and hauling a grapple or drag laden with gear up to one ton in force.

PCCS will host a meeting for interested fishermen at the Land Ho in Orleans (38 Main Street) on Monday, February 18 at 5:00 p.m. to review the project strategy and answer questions.

Weather permitting, fishermen will recover “ghost gear” beginning the last week of February in the Provincetown and Wellfleet harbor areas, during the Outer Cape Trap Haul-out Period, so as to avoid interaction with any actively-fished lobster gear. Gear will all be landed at one wharf in each area, where fishable gear will be identified with assistance from MA Division of Marine Fisheries for return to its owner. Non-fishable gear will be sent to a waste-to-energy facility.

Fishing for Energy is a partnership of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Covanta Energy Corporation, Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Local partners are Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, the Provincetown Public Pier Corporation and Office of the Harbormaster. Fishing For Energy provides a no-cost solution for fishermen to dispose of old, derelict or unusable fishing gear and works to reduce the amount of marine debris in and around coastal waterways. To date, Provincetown fishermen have contributed over 20 tons to this nationwide effort.

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