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Entries in stewardship (43)

Thursday
Feb012018

Be A Good Steward: Recover and Recycle Used Fishing Line

Check out Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's newly updated Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program website. Even if you don't live in Florida, it's a great resource, providing information about such topics as how to build a recycling bin  and how to be more "line conscious" in keeping discarded line from harming fish and wildlife.

Here are some tips from the site:

Whenever possible, retrieve and properly dispose of any monofilament line that you encounter, even if it is not yours. You can even make your own line holder by cutting an 'X' into the lid of a tennis ball canister or coffee container to make it easy to poke the pieces of line through.

Use PVC recycling bins located at boat ramps and piers or visit a local tackle shop with a line recycling bin. If the tackle shop you visit does not have a recycling bin, encourage them to participate in the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program.

It is particularly important to take the time to remove monofilament from mangroves because mangroves are a crucial part of coastal areas, and the slightest imbalance can take a heavy toll on these fragile ecosystems. Mangroves are breeding grounds and nurseries for a variety of marine organisms as well as serve as a buffer between the land and the sea, helping prevent coastal erosion.

 

 

Thursday
Nov092017

Build A Bin; Help Keep Discarded Monofilament Out Of Our Fisheries

Are you interested in helping reduce monofilament debris? Volunteer to build and maintain a monofilament recycling location at a fishing spot near you.

It's as easy as 1-2-3!

1. Using this simple video, learn how you can build your own monofilament recycling bin. We'll even provide you with the signs and decals.

2. Install the bin in a high-traffic fishing area such as a marina, park, or boat ramp, and regularly maintain it, separate any trash, and send the collected line to Berkley Conservation for processing:

Berkley Recycling

1900 18th St.

Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360

3. Track the amount of line you collect through our online database.

Sunday
Jul302017

Please, Pick Up That Line!

Pippa found some fishing line this morning. It was spread across about 10 yards of shoreline. As it tangled her feet, she wasn't happy about her discovery. If left there, the line could have been far more harmful or even fatal to a turtle, bird, or small mammal.

A special "thanks" and a one-finger salute to those who left it there.

Such thoughtless jerks aren't going to change. It's up to the rest of us to pick up after them because we are better human beings than they are. Please join me in doing so whenever you are on or near the water.


 

Wednesday
Jul052017

Plastics Problem Re-Energizes Conservation Spirit in Anglers

 

Back in 2011, Joe Ford told me about a bass that he caught in Texas' Lake Amistad and what he found inside it. The articles that I wrote about his discovery for B.A.S.S. Times and Activist Angler awakened anglers to an environmental problem that had largely been ignored.


Through good stewardship and angler awareness programs such Pitch It, we are minimizing this problem, but the effort must be ongoing. Here's a reminder from one of early articles:

Angler Joe Ford’s chance discovery has re-energized the conservation spirit in bass anglers across the country.

B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott first tapped into that extraordinary force 40 years ago, when he introduced catch-and-release to bass tournaments. Conservation-minded anglers quickly incorporated the practice into recreational fishing, and, with a few years, it was standard procedure for fishermen worldwide, pursuing a multitude of species.

Will what Ford found in the stomach of a 10-pound largemouth spawn the second great stewardship campaign for which bass anglers become the standard bearers? That remains to be seen.

For the moment, though, it has motivated many to deal with a problem that has been too long ignored:

The bottoms of our lakes are smothered with discarded plastic baits, and fish are eating them.

Ford hadn’t intended to keep the big bass that he caught while fishing Texas’ Lake Amistad. But because it was deep hooked, he put it in the livewell to see if it would survive. It did not.

As he was dressing it out, he noted a large plastic mass in its stomach. Closer examination revealed the blob to be a dozen plastic baits.


“It was amazing to see all of those worms in there,” he told me. “I don’t know how it was going to pass them.”

Possibly it wouldn’t have. A long bait, like a worm or lizard, can work its way into the intestine and stay there.

And, because it is unable to feed, it then could starve to death.

In my September Conservation column, I revealed Ford’s experience and explained the tragic scenario likely occurring below the surface of our fisheries.  Response was instant.

Carl Wengenroth, owner of The Angler’s Lodge on  Amistad, said that he has seen plenty of skinny, sickly fish as he assists Texas Parks and Wildlife with fizzing and delayed mortality studies.

“We would see fish that look like a street roller ran over them,” he said. “Often, they’d die at the weigh-in. When we’d clean them, we’d find plastics in their stomachs.

“Then we started looking around and saw worms at fish cleaning stations.”

But there was good news too, as anglers immediately stepped up to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

In Arkansas, Randy Joe Heavin took his boater partner in a Central Open tournament to task for throwing baits overboard.

“I told him about the article in B.A.S.S. Times,” said Heavin, owner of Patriot Records. “And he said that he’d never really thought about it.”

The Oklahoma angler also recalled pulling up a mass of plastic worms from the bottom of DeGray Lake while jigging. “Other guys said that they were catching them too,” he recalled. “That’s when I realized that there must be a ton of them down there.”

Heavin added that he’s never thrown his used baits into the water. “But some guys get in the zone and don’t think about it.”

Not thinking about it is going to be tougher and tougher, thanks to B.A.S.S. Nation state conservation directors.

Before a  tournament on Lake Toho, Florida’s Eamon Bolten talked to 128 participants about problems caused by discarded soft plastics and asked them to deposit their used baits in a collection box.

“Many anglers mentioned how they will now start putting their used baits in the collection box at the tournaments and stop throwing them away in trash cans or in the water,” the Florida conservation director said.

“At least five told me they used to throw their baits in the water and thought nothing of it until hearing me speak about the problems it can create for our bass.”

Up in South Dakota, Jeff Brown heard about Bolten’s program and decided to do the same in his state. “Our guys are extremely receptive to the idea,” he said.

At Amistad, Wengenroth not only collects used baits but remolds them into new ones. “We call the color ‘trash,’ and it seems to catch more fish,” he said.

“Doing something like that could be a great money maker for clubs,” he added. “And the big companies could get onboard and put a message on their packages to not discard baits.”

Now that the issue has been raised at a national level, lots more ideas are being floated around in the angling community on how to deal with it. But whether enough fishermen will participate to effect fundamental change, as they did with catch-and-release, remains to be seen.

Wednesday
Mar152017

Pick Up Fishing Line That Others Leave Behind

Fellow anglers: Please, as spring approaches, remember to pick up discarded fishing line that you see in the water, on the land, and, when possible, in trees. Left behind, it can kill fish and wildlife, especially birds. The people who toss it  aren't going to read this or don't care. Probably both.

It's up to the responsible majority to counter the actions of the irresponsible few. And you'll feel better for doing it. If you belong to a fishing club, make line and trash pickup a regular part of your organizaiton's activities. Also, consider installing recycled line bins at piers and ramps.

Here's a note recently sent to Activist Angler about this issue:

"I read your article here http://www.activistangler.com/journal/tag/fishing-line while searching to know what to do about my issue. We love birds. We do not fish. We do not buy fishing line.

"We have tall trees and live in northern Utah. We have big windstorms. Last year, a big windstorm blew a whole bunch of fishing line into our trees. We got rid of what was low enough. However, these trees are tall. One fishing line which is clear, not white, goes from the branch of one tree to the branch of another tree.

"I know birds get injured by this. We took one injured bird into the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Birds sometimes make 'danger' sounds in large groups near there. I am glad they are figuring it out. I do not know how to get this line out of our trees because it is up so high. Do you have any ideas?"

My response:

I’m so sorry to hear about your situation and wish that I could offer a solution. Sadly, I don’t know of any options other than to climb the trees (if possible) and cut out the line or hire a tree-trimming business to do it for you.

The kind of fishing line that you describe probably is monofilament, and it will deteriorate over time with exposure to sun. But that likely will take years. Meanwhile, it could kill birds. I’ve seen it happen. I took that photo you saw on my website of a great blue heron hanging from a dead tree.

Anglers break lines from time to time and can’t always retrieve all of it because it’s hung on something they can’t reach, either in the water or, worse, in a tree. But that line is attached is something and doesn’t blow all over the place.

What you describe is the result of thoughtless and irresponsible people who discarded that line on the ground or in the water, with no regard for the harm it could do, instead of disposing of it properly. 

I live in an area with several small lakes, and, especially in spring and summer, I often pick up discarded line along the shorelines as I walk with my dog. And every time I do, I have some not-so-nice words for the people who tossed it there.