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Mind Your Line!

Monofilament catches more than fish

How often do you consider how your actions impact the environment? If you fish, the answer should be, every time I go out on the water.
    Discarded fishing line is a small issue with big consequences. Every year, birds and other wildlife are injured or killed by monofilament line.
    Working with osprey at Patuxent River Park, naturalist Greg Kearns witnesses this tragedy firsthand.
    “Every year I find at least one nest where a chick is injured,” Kearns says. Often, adult osprey will pick up fishing line as they are building their nests.
    “As the chicks walk around in the nest, they get tangled,” Kearns says. In some cases, he can cut the birds free before the non-degradable line does much damage.
    Other times, he is too late.
    Last summer, Kearns discovered a full-grown osprey whose leg had been severed by the constricting line.
    “He was clutching his lost foot in his talon,” Kearns says. “At this point, there is nothing you can do. Most osprey don’t do well in captivity.”
    So, what can you do to prevent the fate of osprey like this one? Captain Chris Dollar of CD Outdoors has some pointers.
    An instructor with 35 years fishing experience, Dollar has also seen how easily herons and seagulls can get tangled in the line.
    “Always bring pliers and scissors in case you wrap a bird,” Dollar says.    When discarding fishing line, Dollar teaches his students a few techniques.
    “Say you have 50 feet of unusable line,” Dollar says. “What I do is take my plastic water bottle — because almost everybody that goes fishing takes something to drink — and wrap the line around the bottle. Then you can recycle them both.”
    Monofilament line is made of the same plastic as a water bottle or sports drink bottle, so the two can be recycled together.
    Otherwise, bring a trash bag or recycle your line at a fishing line receptacle.
    “Recycling containers are placed at a number of fishing piers throughout the state by local government agencies, fishing clubs or others,” says Maryland Department of Natural Resources spokesman Gregg Bortz. “The Maryland Park Service provides fishing line recycling containers in most of our parks that offer fishing opportunities.”
    “Bottom line,” Dollar says, “none of us want to go to a place for a relaxing day of fishing and be surrounded by trash. Monofilament recycling is such an easy thing to do.”
    “It should be part of every fisher’s checklist.”