During Trash Bash March 25, Walk the Line - Straight to a Recycling Bin

March 10, 2006

By John O’Connell

This year’s annual “River, Lakes, Bays ’n Bayous Trash Bash” cleanup effort in the Houston and Galveston area, has a new twist — while collecting unsightly and dangerous debris along shorelines of local waterways, volunteers should keep an eye out for used fishing line and deposit it in the special recycling bin.

Monofilament line, the type used by most anglers, is a strong, flexible plastic line that is manufactured as a single strand. This line — even line that is thrown in the garbage — can end up in the environment. Birds and other animals become entangled in it and may drown or lose a limb, or swallow it and starve to death. The line also can wrap around boat propellers, causing damage by blocking water intakes and creating excessive wear on lower units.

“Being a type of plastic, monofilament line can last up to 600 years in an aquatic environment. That’s a long time to have something that dangerous to wildlife hanging around,” said John O’Connell, Texas Sea Grant College Program’s Matagorda County marine agent, who is spearheading the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program (MRRP).

“Once you start looking for old fishing line, you see it out there everywhere.”

Special recycling bins reserved for the fishing line will be available at all 12 of the Trash Bash locations — listed at the web site for the cleanup effort, which is coordinated by the Houston-Galveston Area Council, athttp://www.trashbash.org — including sites at Armand Bayou, Dickinson Bayou, Galveston Bay, Green Bayou, Lake Conroe, Little White Oak Bayou, Lake Houston, Sims Bayou, White Oak Bayou North and the Houston Ship Channel.

O’Connell said that individuals who are not participating in the Trash Bash cleanup can still bring their old monofilament fishing line to one of the sites for recycling. Recycling bins are also available at many boat ramps, fishing piers, parks, tackle shops and marinas during the rest of the year — a list is at http://mrrp.tamu.edu. Pure Fishing®, the parent company of the fishing gear vendor Berkley®, is currently the only company recycling the line, which is used to manufacture new plastic fishing-related products like tackle boxes and spools for line.

O’Connell urges people who throw out monofilament line instead of recycling it to cut it into short lengths of less than 12 inches long first. Other tips from MRRP:
          • Recover your line: Whenever possible, retrieve and properly dispose of any monofilament line.
          • Be line conscious: Consider the age of your line and its strength, and keep track of and store loose pieces of fishing line.
          • Make it a rule: If you fish from a boat, make it a rule not to throw any kind of plastic overboard, and especially not monofilament line.
          • Volunteer: Participate in local beach and river cleanup events like the Trash Bash, and volunteer to sponsor an outdoor monofilament recycling bin and empty it monthly.

For more information:
John O’Connell
Matagorda County Marine Agent
Texas Sea Grant College Program
979-245-4100
j-oconnell@tamu.edu

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Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.