CRWP’s new $48K baler is customized to handle netting

Used fishing nets will be cleaned and bundled for recycling Aug. 7-8. A “no nets” sign discourages people from depositing additional netting. (Aug. 4, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

A new baler purchased by the Copper River Watershed Project will make recycling fishing web easier and more efficient, said Operations Manager Shae Bowman. The roughly $48,000 purchase was funded by the Rasmuson Foundation.

The baler has been modified with a removable plate that will keep netting from getting tangled in the baler’s teeth. The plate can be removed for baling other materials, such as aluminum. Though the baler also has the capacity to compact cardboard and plastic, the CRWP has no immediate plans to start baling these materials as there’s currently little market for recycling them, Bowman said. The baler, which has been shipped from Minnesota, is expected to arrive by the end of August. More efficient baling means more netting will be able to fit into a single container, making the recycling process more economically sustainable, Bowman said.

The CRWP has relaunched its net recycling program in partnership with a new recycler who will be able to have the netting used as material for Grundéns-brand fishing apparel if the netting is of sufficiently high quality. Kicking off this relaunch is an Aug. 7-8 event in which volunteers will prepare a large pile of netting at the Cordova Harbormaster’s Office for recycling. Volunteers, working in shifts to facilitate social distancing, will strip the nets of float lines and other encumbrances and then clean them of seaweed, driftwood and other organic debris.

“We definitely don’t want dead fish in the machinery, because that’s gross,” Bowman said.

The netting will then be bundled into a container for eventual recycling. After this batch of netting has been removed, the CRWP will no longer accept net donations at the Harbormaster’s Office, Bowman said. Individuals wishing to volunteer for the Aug. 7-8 event can apply online.

The CRWP plans to announce details of an upcoming contest for a set of Grundéns fishing apparel on Monday, Aug. 10, Bowman said.