Lobster gear sink rope that spent its short lifespan attached to lobster traps belonging to Trescott fisherman Channon Jones has found new life in New York City. His pot warp was among the 1.4 million feet of recycled lobster trap line collected for and used by Brooklyn, N.Y., artist Orly Genger in her sculpture installation located in Madison Square Park. Named "Red, Yellow and Blue," the installation is made of crocheted rope formed into three-dimensional waves, walls and other shapes that spread over the five‑acre public garden.
Jones went to New York City with his wife and two youngest sons to see the installation. After all, a lot of his rope was in that sculpture, which if stretched end‑to‑end could span the island of Manhattan 20 times. He was the second largest contributor in the state and the third largest of the total recycling program, says Laura Ludwig, coordinator for the rope take‑back project of the Marine Fisheries Research Program, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.
Despite working with sink rope all the time, Jones admits that the sculpture put things in a whole new light. "It was quite something to see -- something we would see as waste made into art."
Ludwig hopes that others will have the same reaction as Jones. "As more people see the rope used in ways they'd not been exposed to before, like what the artist has done, we hope more disciplines will be creative in its use, like architects." She adds, "There are a lot of creative uses for the rope, and we're keeping it out of the waste stream."
While Jones' one year old withheld comment for now, his four year old was enthusiastic, already having an avid interest in playing with lobster rope. "He took some pictures and really enjoyed it, although he was disappointed that there wasn't any green rope. Green is his favorite color," reports Jones.
The sculpture installation is one of a number of creative recycling projects for lobster gear rope that is no longer useable. The first effort took place a few years ago when federal laws created to protect whales required the changeover from "float" line to "sink" line. A federally funded program from 2006B2010 collected over two million pounds of lobster rope. During the collection events, lobster fishermen were given vouchers to help defray the cost of purchasing new "sink" line. The rope was recycled by different industries into low‑grade plastic products or into the colorful and hard‑wearing door mats seen in coastal gift shops.
After that first effort, Ludwig sent out a newsletter that discussed the need for recycled rope for Genger's sculpture installation. By then there was a supply of sink rope ready for recycling. Jones explains that sink rope lasts from two to four years instead of the 10 or so that float rope would last because of the abrasion that occurs with rope being on the ocean floor. In 2012 he took his frayed sink rope to the transfer station in Hancock County, the drop‑off point for the region. There it was stored for transport down to New York.
The call may be going out again, Jones says. He's heard from Ludwig that the artist will be creating another installation project out of recycled lobster sink rope, this time in Austin, Texas. "Yes," Ludwig says, "there's a buy-back starting up for 40,000 pounds sometime this summer." Rope diameter of 7/16" to 5/6" will be needed by the artist for her new project.
The installation at Madison Square Park is up until September 8 and then will travel in October to the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum outside of Boston, Mass., marking the first Madison Square Art commission to tour.
For more information about the rope buy‑back program, contact Ludwig at 207‑263‑5300.