Over 2 million people fish in the state of Texas. If we add that all up, Texans spend more than 34,735,000 days fishing annually! By accident or neglect, fishing line gets left behind. It can snag on different things, such as rocks or trees or depending on the age, the line can break without warning. It can also be carried away by the wind or tossed overboard purposefully. Fishing line adds up in the environment over time.
Fishing line, which is a kind of nonpoint source pollution, harms species on land and in water. Because it is made from artificial materials, the line does not break down naturally (biodegrade) and can persist for up to 600 years in the environment. That means the line will keep fishing for centuries, while also harming birds, turtles, fish, and dolphins. The occurrence, termed ghost fishing, is a worldwide problem. In fact, fishing line is one of the ocean’s most persistent forms of pollution.
Fishing line is a serious litter problem along waterways, particularly near ramps and docks. It can ensnare propellers and damage boats, while being perilous for divers. It poses a risk to human and economic health, and is an eyesore.
You can make a difference to wildlife in Texas and around the world by keeping fishing line out of our waterways. When you lose your line or see it in the environment, do your best to recover it. Hooks, bobbers, and plant material should be taken out before recycling at a monofilament station (see map below for locations), then record your data on the Texas Stream Team datasheet, or enter it on our website.
If you are unable to recycle the line, the best thing to do is cut it into 6-inch lengths (so it cannot ensnare wildlife) and dispose of properly.
Save lives; don’t leave your line behind!
Monofilament line is the most commonly used fishing line. It is a single-strand, high-density nylon line that is used on fishing reels. Only monofilament line is recyclable.
Braided line or line that contains wire cannot be recycled. Even if the line isn’t recyclable, it should be removed from the environment. If you are unable to recycle the line, cut it into pieces less than 6 inches long and dispose of it in a trashcan. Because birds can take fishing line from trashcans, consider mailing the clean monofilament line to Berkley Recycling.
• NOAA Marine Debris Program
• NOAA Marine Debris Program Research Strategy (2012-2016)
• NOAA: What we Know About Marine Debris
• Marine Debris is everyone's problem.
• What we Know About the "Garbage Patches"
• Marine Wildlife Found Entangled in Marine Debris
• How Long Until It's Gone?
• What We Know about Entanglement and Ingestion
• Our Ocean Isn't a Garbage Can
• 2014 Trash Free Seas: By the Numbers
• Marine Debris Awareness
• Impacts of Marine Debris
• New Study Reveals the Amount of Plastic Entering the Ocean from Land
• Top 10 Trash Items Found in Ocean
• Marine Trash Pollution
• 6 Facts About Fishing
• Increased protection would provide big boost to the ocean economy
• The Plastics Breakdow
Monofilament line kills wildlife in multiple ways. One hazard is entanglement. The plastic line can wrap around the bodies of different animals making it impossible for them to move. They can die from infection, starvation, predation, or suffocation.
Another threat is ingestion. When consumed, the plastic creates a false sense of fullness and animals can die from lack of food. A gray whale was found dead in 2010 of malnourishment with 20 plastic bags in its stomach, as well as surgical gloves, a pair of sweat pants, a golf ball, and a variety of other plastic pieces. In 2014, 9 pelicans were rescued after becoming ensnared with fishing lines and hooks in Houston.
If you see impacted wildlife, follow guidelines from your local animal rescue operation. Locate additional rehab centers by county here: www.TPWD.Texas.gov
• Angleton: Gulf Coast Wildlife Rescue
• Austin: Austin Wildlife Rescue
• Corpus Christi: Texas State Aquarium
• Dallas: Rogers Wildlife
• Houston: TWRC Wildlife Center
• Lubbock: South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Inc.
• Magnolia: Friends of Texas Wildlife
• San Antonio: Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation
• Weatherford: Bat World Sanctuary, Inc.
Texas Stream Team is working to restore habitat and protect wildlife across our state by mobilizing a network of trained citizen scientists to remove fishing line and recycle monofilament line. We collect the data reported by our citizen scientists, manage the recycling station at Spring Lake, and are working to increase the number of recycling stations in Central Texas. For more information about Texas Stream Team Monofilament Finders, please contact Briane Willis at BrianeWillis@txstate.edu
Please contact TxStreamTeam@txstate.edu if you are interested in learning more about incorporating Texas Stream Team or Monofilament Finders into your program. We can help with citizen science based water quality monitoring, environmental assessments, riparian habitat assessments, monofilament removal and more!