By: Sarah Lowe
In the Great Lakes, fishing line is an entanglement hazard for wildlife. This is especially true in areas such as the Maumee River in Ohio. Each spring, thousands of fishermen brave the cooler temperatures to catch walleye (a popular recreational species of freshwater fish found in northern waters of the U.S.), which are migrating up from Lake Erie to spawn in the river. Given the amount of line being used during this time, there is a large amount lost or discarded improperly.
In order to tackle this issue, the NOAA Marine Debris Program has provided support to Partners for Clean Streams (PCS), a local non-profit in Toledo, OH, to build and distribute mono-filament fishing line recycling bins. On February 18, I assisted PCS staff and volunteers in building 20 bins! As part of the BoatUS Foundation Reel In and Recycle Program, these bins are created to allow fishermen an opportunity to recycle fishing line. Once collected, the line is shipped to the Berkley Conservation Institute and repurposed into more line or other fishing products such as tackle boxes. Look for a bin the next time you go fishing!
This project, like many in the region, are being highlighted to congressional staff as part of the Great Lakes Day this week in Washington, D.C. Great Lakes Day is an annual event hosted by the Great Lakes Commission and the Northeast-Midwest Institute to educate and convey a unified message to Congress on priorities for the region.