Monofilament fishing line is an amazingly strong substance that can exist for a very long time in the environment. More than one million birds die each year from marine debris including discarded fishing line, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. When animals get caught in monofilament line, it's often a slow and often agonizing death. Starvation is the most common demise for these birds and animals as the line wraps around their neck or accumulates in the stomach, preventing the ingestion of food. It can also immobilize the animals by entangling the legs, securing them to stationary objects.
Audubon is taking the lead in addressing this serious environmental issue locally by enlisting the help from our inaugural Master Birder class. Participants in this course commit to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours to ASWP for at least each of the two years following the end of the program.
As part of their volunteer hours, these Master Birders will survey the extent of the problem across our region and inspect several local fishing areas and establish “hot spots” where abandoned monofilament line problem is significant. From these established hot spots, the Master Birders will identify locations for fishing line recycle bins and determine how many recycling bins will need to be installed, collect the deposited fishing line, along with picking up discarded line. Ultimately, the line will be sent to The Berkley Conservation Institute who recycles the discarded line into new products.
The most immediate outcome will be the removal of large amounts of discarded monofilament fishing line from the environment, while significantly reducing threats to birds and wildlife. The collection of line and the established recycling bins by ASWP’s Master Birders will also help to raise awareness of the threat, foster stewardship of our local environment, and help to save our local bird and animal populations.