Following Florida's lead in 1999, monofilament line recycling programs have been initiated in at least two dozen states, and the public image of anglers nationwide would be greatly enhanced if more stepped up to participate.
That's because Berkley estimates it has recycled more than 9 million miles worth of fishing line since it began accepting it in 1990. That's enough to fill two reels for every angler in America. Had it been discarded in the water or on the shore, far more fish, fowl, and other wildlife likely would have died. Also it could have caused considerable damage to boat engines by becoming entangled in props or sucked in by intakes.
Initiation of a program requires one key ingredient, according to Chris Dunnavant, angling educator coordinator with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and long-time member of B.A.S.S.
"Staffing is a big issue so volunteers contact us. They might be a Scout group or an association," he said, adding that VDGIF coordinates and approves placement of line recycling bins across the state. On its website, it also provides instruction and diagrams for building the bins, which now are in place at about 150 access areas in Virginia.
"They (volunteers) do it all," he continued. "They are responsible for emptying the bins and taking the line to recycling centers, including at Bass Pro Shops and some of our regional offices. From there it goes to Berkley."
Regular monitoring is a must, he explained, because some put trash in the bins, and birds and other wildlife sometimes go into them, get tangled, and die, if baffles are not included.
Why is discarded monofilament a problem? Here's what the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) says at its Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program (MRRP) website page:
"Most monofilament is non-biodegradable and can last hundreds of years, depending on environmental conditions.
"Because it is thin and often clear, it is very difficult for birds and animals to see and they can easily brush up against it and become entangled in it. Once entangled, they may become injured, may drown, may become strangled, or may starve to death.
"Many animals also ingest fishing line. One recovered sea turtle was found to have consumed 500 feet of heavy duty fishing line."
But when the line is sent to Berkley, it is made into fish habitat structures, as well as raw plastic pellets, which can be used to make tackle boxes, spools for line, and toys. Discarded monofilament , however, is not used to make more fishing line.
"By recycling line, we are enhancing fishing," Dunnavant said.