Give ’em enough rope

More old fishing rope from Maine is being repurposed by Orly Genger.

Genger is the latest in a long line of artists who find inspiration for the images they create along Maine’s iconic rocky shore, but instead of coming to Maine to recreate what she sees, Genger is having Maine sent to her in the form of the worn-out groundlines.

Laura Ludwig, formerly of the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation and now of the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass., was in Maine last month collecting old rope for Genger’s project, paying out 50 cents per pound to fishermen who brought her their old groundlines. One objective of the program is to help Maine fishermen pay for replacing their old float rope, which has been banned more than a few miles from shore because of the threat it poses to diving whales. Groundlines – which connected traps in a line along the ocean floor – that float toward the surface in loops could snare the whales, regulators decided. So now it has to sink to the bottom, which makes it wear out faster.

“Most of the 18 tons (36,000 pounds) of rope collected during August was in service for less than three years,” according to Ludwig.

New groundline can cost as much as $2.85 per pound, she noted. The collection program may not pay much, but it helps defray the cost of buying new rope and, she added, having it put back to use as art is better than “bringing it to a landfill.”

This past spring, Genger displayed an installation piece made from old Maine fishing rope in Madison Square Park in New York City. The next piece with rope collected last month in Maine will be displayed in Texas, according to Ludwig.

Click here to read Ludwig’s full press release about the latest collection effort.

Bill Trotter

About Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors. He writes about fisheries, marine-related topics, eastern coastal Maine communities and more for the BDN. He lives in Ellsworth. Follow him on Twitter at @billtrotter.