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Entries in trash (19)


Please, Help Keep Plastic Out Of Our Waters!

This is a northern pike that Adam Turnbull caught recently while fishing the Saskatchewan River in Alberta, Canada Saturday. Although it fought like a normal fish, it had a plastic six-pack ring around its middle. It obviously had been there for awhile, as the side view of the fish shows.

Would it eventually have died from having its mid-section squeezed and mutilated?

 No one knows. Turnbull cut it off, and said this on a Facebook post about the incident.

"Pick up your garbage. This is a Powerade wrapper which takes up no room in your pocket until you get to a garbage can. Please share!

"Never thought this post would hit 10k shares. Thanks to everyone who has had a look at this post, as it was meant to raise awareness and that it has."

*    *    *    *

I've  never tossed plastic of any kind into the water. Not baits. Not six-pack rings. Not sandwich bags or wrappers from peanut butter crackers. It just didn’t make sense to me.

But I saw other people do it, including friends and even some professional anglers. If those discarded items were in reach before they sank, I’d nonchalantly pick them up and stow them to throw away later on shore. Yet I never said anything to them for a number of reasons, including the fact that often I was fishing out of their boats.

Others, I suspect, have had similar experiences with their fishing buddies.

Why do people who wouldn’t otherwise litter think that it’s okay to pitch plastic into our lakes and rivers? I don’t think that they do. I believe that they just don’t think about it at all. It’s part of the age old problem that we have with using our public waters for trash receptacles--- out of sight, out of mind.

But  too often those discarded plastics shos up eventually. If they're baits, anglers find them in the stomachs of fish, as I've shown in photos often at Activist Angler. Turtles mistake plastic bags and balloons for jellyfish and eat them. And six-pack rings ensnare both fish and wildlife, as the photos with this article show.

*    *    *    *

Thousands of animals, from small finches to great white sharks, die grisly deaths each year from eating or getting caught in plastic that accumulates in our oceans at an alarming rate. So why not do something to minimize the avalanche of plastic trash and save lives?

Why not edible six-pack rings?

And that's just what SaltWater Brewery in Florida has come up with. Here's what the company says:

"Most plastic beer sixpack rings end up in our oceans and pose a serious threat to wildlife. Together with We Believers, we  designed, tested and prototyped the first ever Edible Six Pack Rings, sixpack packaging, made with byproducts of the beer making process, that instead of killing animals, feeds them. They are also 100% biodegradable and compostable."

Check out the informational video at the company's website. And here's a more in-depth article about the project.

We produce more than 300 million tons of plastic annually. That's equivalent to the combined weight of all adult humans on earth. Nearly half of this we use once and then throw away. In just the first decade of this century, we made more plastic than all the plastic in history up to the year 2000.

Much of it is discarded on land, but is carried by wind, rain, and runoff to the oceans, where it accumulates year after year after year. That's because plastic is so durable that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports "every bit of plastic ever made still exists."

The North Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is twice the size of Texas and growing. It consists mostly of small plastic particles that suspend at or just below the surface, where fish and other animals mistake them for food. Plastic there is more prevalent than real food, like zooplankton, by about 6 to 1, according to scientists.

This is but one of five such convergence zones in our oceans.

Following are some sobering statistics about discarded plastic from the Center on Biological Diversity:

Fish in the North Pacific ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, which can cause intestinal injury and death and transfers plastic up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals.

Sea turtles also mistake floating plastic garbage for food. While plastic bags are the most commonly ingested item, loggerhead sea turtles have been found with soft plastic, ropes, Styrofoam, and monofilament lines in their stomachs. Ingestion of plastic can lead to blockage in the gut, ulceration, internal perforation and death; even if their organs remain intact, turtles may suffer from false sensations of satiation and slow or halt reproduction.

Hundreds of thousands of seabirds ingest plastic every year. Plastic ingestion reduces the storage volume of the stomach, causing birds to consume less food and ultimately starve. Nearly all Laysan albatross chicks — 97.5 percent — have plastic pieces in their stomachs; their parents feed them plastic particles mistaken for food. Based on the amount of plastic found in seabird stomachs, the amount of garbage in our oceans has rapidly increased in the past 40 years.

Marine mammals ingest and get tangled in plastic. Large amounts of plastic debris have been found in the habitat of endangered Hawaiian monk seals, including in areas that serve as pup nurseries. Entanglement deaths are severely undermining recovery efforts of this seal, which is already on the brink of extinction. Entanglement in plastic debris has also led to injury and mortality in the endangered Steller sea lion, with packing bands the most common entangling material. In 2008 two sperm whales were found stranded along the California coast with large amounts of fishing net scraps, rope and other plastic debris in their stomachs.

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If you haven't done so, pledge to “pitch it” at Keep America Fishing (KAF).

When the campaign began a couple of years ago, KAF said this:

“What happens when soft baits get torn or worn out? Too often, they are ending up as litter at the bottoms of ponds, lakes and rivers and that’s causing problems. Recently in Maine a bill was introduced that would have banned the sale and use of soft plastic lures.

“That's why Keep America Fishing created the Pitch It campaign to talk to fishermen about the proper disposal of worn out soft baits. By standing up against litter, we can protect our precious natural resources while taking away a powerful argument from those who want to regulate the contents of our tackle boxes. That’s a win-win!”

Go here to take the pledge and hear a short video by Kevin VanDam in support of the effort.

By the way, I started warning about the problems caused by discarded plastic baits back in 2011, first in B.AS.S. Times and then at Activist Angler. Angler Joe Ford, who caught a large bass with a stomach full of discarded baits, and Carl Wengenroth at The Angler's Lodge on Lake Amistad first brought this issue to my attention. You can find more photos and articles about this topic by searching "plastics." Search box is at upper right of page.


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.



Boaters Trashing Our Waterways

Empty bottles and cans belong in trash cans, not our waterways.

Do you know the term “sinking your empties”?

I didn’t until Rudy Socha of Wounded Nature --- Working Veterans told me about it. And what he said sickened me.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve seen cans and bottles at the bottom of the lakes that I fish and rivers that I float.  I didn’t like it, but I attributed it to thoughtless behavior by a few slobs who aren’t going to change, no matter what anyone says or does to try to change their minds.

Now, it appears, many outdoor recreationists --- including fishermen --- are tossing their beer cans and bottles overboard, knowing that it’s wrong, but doing so anyway. They are more concerned about not getting charged with driving-under-the-influence should marine patrol officers search their boats and find empties aboard.

It’s not they are actually intoxicated, the feeble excuse goes. It’s just that they don’t want to give the “mistaken” appearance that they are with a boat full of bottles and cans.

So let’s see if I have this right: They’re driving boats and they’re drinking alcohol, but they really don’t pose a risk to others, so they must trash our waters to avoid being wrongly accused.

Socha contacted Activist Angler, as well as other web sites and publications, in hopes of finding a solution to this growing problem. He learned about this trashing of our fisheries through the work that his organization does, cleaning up rural beaches and islands via houseboats and employing veterans.

 I asked him to provide evidence that “sinking your empties” is an actual strategy employed by anglers and others. He did, which I’ll write about in future posts.

He also said this, “Start asking people at marinas how many of their boater friends never bring back empties because of fear of a DUI check at the docks.

“It’s funny because, when you phrase the question like that, most boats will start talking and some will actually start naming other boats.

“I have asked a lot of boaters, from Florida to New York. Now in defense of boaters and fishermen, some do not even drink or bring beer with them and others would never litter. But start asking on your own and I think you will be surprised.”

Please, help stop this practice that trashes our waters for a reason that is beyond stupid in its deranged logic.

Also, share with Activist Angler and/or Wounded Nature any examples that you can provide about “sinking your empties.” Ideas for solutions to the problem would be appreciated as well.


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 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.


It's Not Just Monofilament That Kills

I’ve seen first-hand that fishing line kills. This is my photo of the blue heron hanging from a tree. It was heart-breaking to see.

When left in the aquatic environment, because of snags or improper disposal,  fishing line creates potential traps for unsuspecting wildlife that can become entangled and snared, leading to injury and death.

Monofilament is the most common type of fishing line, but it's not the only threat. Modern advances have produced several other varieties with higher tensile strength, reduced visibility and greater abrasion resistance. These newer, non-monofilament lines, such as braid and fluorocarbon, are fairly popular, but not all of them can be recycled like monofilament fishing line, and they are commonly disposed of improperly.

How you can help

To help reduce the negative environmental impacts from improper disposal of all fishing line and tackle, anglers can follow these general guidelines:

  • Check line frequently for frays that may break easily.
  • Don’t leave bait unattended since pelicans, herons and other birds may attempt to take the bait from the line, which may result in entanglements.
  • Cast away from trees, utility lines, wildlife and areas where line may get caught.
  • If you see improperly discarded fishing line while you are out, pick it up and stow it to be disposed of later.

Anglers can purchase or make their own fishing line storage bins to keep with them while they are fishing so that line can be stored securely and out of the way. Products such as the Monomaster and Line Snatcher are designed to help anglers store their unwanted fishing line; however, homemade versions can also be made by cutting an “X” in the lid of something as simple as a tennis ball container or coffee can.

Monofilament recycling

Once on shore, monofilament and fluorocarbon line can be recycled in designated bins found at most boat ramps, piers and tackle shops. However, anglers should not use these bins to discard any other type of fishing line or leader material such as braid or wire. Also, the bins should not be used to discard any type of tackle, such as hooks, lures or soft plastics, which can injure other anglers discarding their fishing line or the individuals who empty the bins for recycling.

 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provided the above information, as well as the following:

 You can learn how to make your own monofilament recycling bin by visiting FWC Saltwater Fishing YouTube  channel or by participating in the statewide Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program.