By: Susan Shingledecker, Guest Blogger and Vice President of the nonprofit BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water
As a mom of two young boys, summer means time spent by the pool, and in my case, the baby pool. This weekend my son was having fun watching his toy boat (with a real motor!) zip around the pool. After a while he came to me, frustrated that a piece of hair had wrapped around the propeller causing the motor to stop working. Some people might find this gross. But to a mom who works on marine debris issues, specifically fishing line recycling, it was ironic and rather funny. Not that any marine debris is ever funny, but I checked carefully and none of the toy jellyfish, squirting dolphins or plastic turtles scattered around the pool were injured. While this incident was relatively harmless, and the motor will be fixed by simply replacing a battery, the same can’t be said for a real fishing line entanglement with boats or wildlife.
In 2006 the BoatU.S. Foundation started our national fishing line recycling program, Reel In and Recycle, with funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Over five years we built and distributed over 2,000 fishing line recycling bins to groups around the country who installed them at launch ramps, marinas and waterfront businesses and maintain them over time. Each year volunteers report the amount of line collected in the bins that is sent to Berkley Conservation for recycling. Each year, we recycle enough fishing line to stretch from coast to coast!
What is most exciting is that since the grant funding ended we have more than tripled the amount of installed bins! Today more than 6,000 Reel In and Recycle bins have been installed and that doesn’t include the bins installed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other groups united in the effort to end fishing line entanglement.
Learn more about the Reel In and Recycle program and view a short video the BoatU.S. Foundation made on how to build your own bin here: http://www.boatus.org/monofilament/.