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The Importance Of Monofilament Recycling

The Importance of Monofilament Recycling

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has developed a monofilament recycling program known as the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program (MRRP) to safely discard of used monofilament fishing line. The mottos for this program are “Reel-In and Recycle!” and “Reel. Remove. Recycle.”, making for catchy phrases that are easy to remember and share with others. The purpose of this program is to reduce the negative environmental impact of monofilament that was improperly disposed of.

About the Program

This statewide program “aims to educate the public on the problems caused by monofilament line left in the environment, encourage recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations, and help citizens host volunteer monofilament line cleanup events”. To be successful, this program relies upon partnerships with organizations and individuals that help to encourage, educate and volunteer.

The project has 3 long-term goals and 6 primary objectives. It hopes to “heighten awareness about the negative impacts that fishing line debris has on human welfare, marine life, and water quality; decrease the amount of fishing line entering and remaining in the natural environment; and increase the amount of fishing line being recycled”.

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To attain these goals, the FWC and its partners in this endeavor are marketing and advertising to target audiences, such as anglers and boaters. They are also facilitating participation through the use of activities like cleanup events and recycling bins that are located or take place in target rich environments, such as near marinas or beaches.

The final objectives are to:

  • “Increase the number of outdoor recycling bins throughout the state
  • Increase the number of tackle shops that are hosting recycling receptacles
  • Increase the number of monofilament line cleanup events throughout the state
  • Increase attendance to education and outreach events specific to marine and wildlife conservation
  • Distribute educational materials that include flyers and brochures to share with targeted audiences at events and presentations”
Cormorant tangled in fishing line

What is the Danger of Monofilament Line?

Countless land and see animals have been injured or have died as a result of monofilament line. Many of them get entangled and some of them even swallow it. This includes, but is most certainly not limited to, sea turtles, manatees, birds, dolphins and coral colonies. It is easy for them to become entangled or to accidentally swallow it because it is so hard to see.

Additionally, it is non-biodegradable, meaning that it will not degrade over time once it makes its way into the environment, leaving it to ‘ghost fish’ for years to come (‘ghost fishing’ simply means that the line is still trapping fish – and other marine life – despite the fact that an angler has no control over it). Not to mention, it can cause some serious damages to boats if it gets caught up in an engine.

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How Does Monofilament Line End Up in the Environment?

Monofilament line ends up in the water and on land near water bodies most often due to getting snagged or snapped on objects or structure under water like rocks. Sometimes fish can even break the line during reel in. Other times, line may get admirably thrown away but then gets blow away and picked out by birds trying to grab food or items to build nests. So, if you choose to just throw your line away, cut it up into 6-inch pieces and make sure the receptacle has a lid. There are many ways that line can end up in the environment that are completely unintentional but can happen, nonetheless. Unfortunately, sometimes the line is even left intentionally.

Sanderling has fishing line tangled around its foot

How Can I Help

Because of the MRRP program, helping to keep monofilament line out of our waters and off our beaches is easier than ever! Monofilament line is recyclable through an organization called Pure Fishing, Inc. that melts all the line into other plastic materials that are then used to make other fishing and fish-related products like spools, fish habitats and tackle boxes. So, there are several ways you can recycle your line:

  1. Find an FWC-approved recycling bin near you using this map.
  2. Build your own monofilament recycling bin.
  3. Request an indoor bin for your organization (or encourage your local bait shops to do so).
  4. Make a mini bin.

Unfortunately, these methods and this particular program only apply to monofilament line because not all fishing lines can be recycled. For line to be recycled, it must be a single filament, nylon product like monofilament or fluorocarbon. It cannot be braided, contain wire or be covered in plant growth. Fishing line also cannot go into your recycling bin at home because fishing line is a high-density plastic that requires a unique process for recycling. Only organizations like Pure Fishing can accommodate such a process.

If you would like to help further, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities available. If you’re an avid line recycler, consider adopting a monofilament recycling receptacle. Adopting a bin assigns you the responsibility of regularly emptying the bin, cleaning the line of dirt, debris, hooks, tackle, etc. and then shipping it to Pure Fishing, Inc. If you are interested in adopting a bin, please contact Florida MRRP.

You can also volunteer in local cleanups or even host your own. Contact Florida MRRP to find out when and where the next cleanup near you will take place. They can also help if you are interested in hosting your own. Driving attendance to these events can be difficult, so their expertise can go a long way.

Lastly, the best way you can help keep line out of our precious and fragile environment is to always stay line-conscious. Check your line regularly so you are not using old or weak line that could break easily; cast away from areas where your line could get caught on things like power lines and trees; do not leave bait unattended for birds to swoop in on; and be sure to have an onboard trash receptable of some sort for broken line and plastic trash so nothing goes overboard. Most importantly, when possible, recover any line that may have broken or gotten snagged from the water. If you see any line floating, even if it wasn’t yours, retrieve it and properly dispose of it when you can.

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Final Words

Despite the method of which you choose to be involved, as long as you are not leaving your line behind, you are helping keep our waterways and beaches clean, as well as keeping local wildlife safe. Being line-conscious goes a long way in helping the environment.

Happy Fishing

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