While fishing a small pond several years ago, I began picking up trash that had been left on the bank. I removed wads of fishing line off the ground and out of the nearby vegetation. There seemed to be no end in sight--one piece of discarded fishing line led to the next. I began to wonder about what impacts all this discarded fishing line is having on the environment.
As it turned out, fishing line pollution poses a real threat to wildlife, not to mention a hazard to boaters and divers. The most common type of fishing line, nylon monofilament fishing line, is made from various types of polymers which take a very long time to break down. Discarded fishing line can last for hundreds of years in the environment. There are some simple things that we can do, as anglers, to help reduce fishing line pollution.
Fishing Line Poses Threat To Wildlife
Sea Turtle Tangled in Fishing Line
Photo © National Parks Service
Sea Gull Tangled in Fishing Line
Photo © Ed Gutrhro
Wildlife can become entangled or ingest discarded fishing line, injuring or killing the animal. There are numerous cases of birds, ducks, turtles, dolphins, seals, sea lions, fish, coral, whales, and many other animals being entangled in discarded fishing line.
Anglers Can Help Reduce Fishing Line Pollution
As anglers, we have the power to reduce fishing line pollution with just a few adjustments to how we use and dispose of our fishing line.
Recycle Monofilament Fishing Line
In the last decade, monofilament fishing line recycling programs have sprouted up all over the world. Many U.S. states have initiated monofilament recycling programs and installed fishing line collection bins at popular fishing destinations. These bins are typically made from white or black PVC pipe (see photo to the left). Look for these bins at your favorite fishing spot, or ask your local department of fish and wildlife about monofilament recycling programs in your state.
Additionally, most sporting goods and tackle stores have collection bins for your old monofilament fishing line. Save your old fishing line for recycling when you are changing line. When you're out in the field, store all the clippings and snippets of fishing line that you can. Next time you're in the sporting goods store, drop off your old fishing line. Using a device such as the MonoMASTER (see photo to the right) can make storing fishing line clippings much easier.
If you are in a location where fishing line recycling is not accessible, you can mail your old fishing line to Berkley Fishing for recycling:
1900 18th Street
Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360
If you would like to learn more about getting a fishing line recycling program started in your area, check out the Reel In and Recycle! program from the BoatU.S. Foundation. A video of this program is provided below.
Use Biodegradable Fishing Line
In 2008 we were introduced to a revolutionary innovation in fishing line technology. Bioline Biodegradable Fishing Line is based on the same technology used in soluble stitches in the medical industry. This fishing line boasts features seen in premium quality fishing line, but, it's 100% biodegradable.
Use this biodegradable fishing line for applications which do not require a specialty line or lines exceeding 20 pound test. Bioline works great for most freshwater fishing and light saltwater fishing.
Spread The Word
In addition to reducing our own fishing line waste, we can help spread the word to our fellow anglers and pick up other anglers' discarded line. I typically come home with a bag full of line, tackle, and trash I find along the banks of my favorite river. Let other anglers know about the problems discarded fishing line can pose and how they can reduce their own discarded fishing line.