Monofilament Recycling Catches On
Every day, improperly discarded monofilament fishing line causes devastating problems for aquatic life in marine and freshwater environments. Mammals, turtles, fish, frogs and birds can be injured or die from entanglement or ingestion of this material. Human divers and swimmers are also at risk from entanglements and the line can also damage boat propellers.
Monofilament line is extremely strong making it perfect for all types of fishing line and nets. However, when it becomes snagged or tangled in some way and is discarded by the fisherman, it can become a real hazard. Just look around trees and shrubs next to your favorite fishing holes and see how much fishing line is strewn on the ground and snagged in the vegetation.
In order to address this wide-spread problem that plagues the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR), in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, developed the Mississippi Monofilament Recycling Program in 2008. For use by recreational and commercial anglers this is an effort to reduce the amount of discarded fishing line making its way into the environment and to educate local anglers and other members of the community about the danger monofilament fishing litter can pose to the environment, wildlife, divers, boaters and even industry if it is not disposed properly. DMR staff maintains monofilament recycling receptacles at 23 public piers and boat launches. The recycling tubes are emptied regularly and the discarded fishing line is sent to a monofilament recycler.
A new program now makes it easy for fishermen at the Ross Barnett Reservoir to dispose of unwanted line and thus protect wildlife and fisheries resources. Recognizing that monofilament line is a litter issue as well and a conservation issue, Keep the Rez Beautiful (KRB), the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (PRVWD) and the Mississippi Wildlife Federation’s Adopt-a-Stream Mississippi program launched the effort with the help of a Brandon teen earlier this year.
The program consists of collection bins set up at key points around the Reservoir. These bins are located at popular fishing spots including the Spillway (on both sides of the Pearl River), Pelahatchie Shore Park, Goshen Springs (at boat launch and fishing pier), the fishing pier Pelahatchie Trading Post, Rankin Landing, Madison Landing, Brown’s Landing and Ratliff’s Ferry.
Ryan Seawright, with the help of his father and fellow Boy Scouts, located these sites around the Reservoir and installed the bins as part of Ryan’s Eagle Scout Leadership Project. BoatUS Foundation donated the bins to KRB while the PRVWSD provided the poles to mount the bins. “I loved giving back to the Reservoir,” Seawright said. “It’s a great place to fish.”
“We are proud of the service that Ryan has provided our community and thankful for his hard work in getting this project off the ground,” KRB Executive Director Jeannine May said. “Fishing line, or monofilament, is typically non-degradable and lasts about 600 years.”
“The Reservoir ecosystem is home to a variety of wildlife, and it’s important we keep it free of litter and hazardous materials,” said Deb Veeder, the state’s Adopt-a-Stream coordinator and a member of KRB’s board of directors. “These bins give people who fish a safe way to dispose of unwanted fishing line.”
Added John Sigman, the district’s executive director: “Keeping our Reservoir free of fishing line and other litter is important to us and ensures a healthy ecosystem. Please don’t leave your line behind and store unwanted line in a safe place until it can be recycled.”
Since the bins have been erected, senior students at Northwest Rankin High School have collected 1lb 5oz of line. Deb Veeder sent this line to Berkley Recycling in Spirit Lake, IA. Since 1990, the Berkley Conservation Institute, with the help of anglers everywhere, has recycled more than 9 million miles worth of fishing line. That’s enough line to fill two reels for every angler in America. The Institute uses the recycled line to create the “Berkley Fish-Hab structure. These structures are artificial, underwater habitat structure made from recycled monofilament fishing line and line spools, along with other post-consumer materials like milk cartons and soft drink bottles. The Fish-Hab attracts fish and encourages plant growth, providing the cover essential to the growth of a healthy fish population.
You too can be part of this effort. Here are few simple rules to keep fishing safe:
- Use monofilament recycling bins
- Deposit only into the recycling bins
- Pick up monofilament and trash wherever you fish.
- When you visit other areas – share what you know about the dangers of monofilament for wildlife.
- Make sure the weight of your line is appropriate for the fish; a number of factors go into determining the right line and pound-test to use.
- Make monofilament collection bins for your favorite fishing site. Visit http://www.boatus.com/foundation/monofilament/build.asp# for instructions on how to build these bins